Friday, May 25, 2018

Police looking for vandals who stoned vehicles

Police have increased patrols in an East Tampa neighborhood after a series of attacks in which vandals threw large rocks at passing cars and buses, striking at least 10 vehicles, shattering windshields and startling passengers.

The incidents began about four weeks ago in the area of 50th Street and Melbourne Boulevard, said Tampa police spokeswoman Janelle McGregor, with the majority of them occurring during the evening hours.

No one has been injured in the attacks and police have not yet determined who is responsible.

The first incident was reported Jan. 23 when a piece of concrete struck a Hillsborough Area Regional Transit bus, McGregor said. On Feb. 16, five vehicles reported being struck in an hour.

The concrete rocks, which can be found on the side of the road, are large enough to damage vehicles and break windows, McGregor said.

At least eight HART buses, all along Route 6 — which travels from the University Area in the north to the Marion Transit Center in downtown Tampa — have been struck, said HART spokeswoman Sandra Morrison, though not all were damaged.

A HART surveillance video from inside the bus where the first attack occurred shows a piece of concrete breaking through a side-door window and landing on the bus floor as a passenger sits just feet away.

In other incidents, rocks shattered front windshields and pierced windows near seats.

The most recent attack on Monday evening prompted HART officials to make a temporary detour of three stops. The detour was canceled Wednesday due to passenger confusion.

"(Tuesday) we had about 25 passengers that didn't know we had taken into measure a safety detour and they had no way getting to work and appointments," Morrison said.

HART has instead stationed supervisors in the area to help increase safety, Morrison said.

Police have enhanced patrols and were asking for the public's help in identifying those responsible.

"This is one of those cases where we are also asking if anyone in that neighborhood hears or sees anything suspicious to contact us," McGregor said. "Because the majority of the rock throwing incidents are occurring at night while vehicles and buses are passing by, drivers don't have an opportunity to get a view of who's throwing."

But officers do have some leads, McGregor said.

"We do believe it's a group of teenagers who are throwing the rocks," McGregor said. "We are looking to take these suspects or suspect into custody before someone gets hurt."

A representative for the union that represents HART workers said she understands the need to return to normal service but expressed concern for the safety of drivers and patrons.

"There needs to be more police presence and debris needs to get cleaned up," said Michaela Stuckey, chief steward of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1593. "It's a very dark street. If something comes flying, drivers can't see it."

Several riders of the HART route said Wednesday they were unaware of the recent incidents. Jeffrey Singletary, 32, who usually takes the bus to church, said he wasn't concerned about his safety.

"But it does worry me in terms of the safety of others," Singletary said.

Demontiae Hunter, 26, said he had heard about the string of attacks but wasn't worried either, as he rarely rides the bus in the evening.

Contributing: John Martin and Dan Sullivan

Comments
Officials: Deadly Nipah virus has not spread in south India

Officials: Deadly Nipah virus has not spread in south India

Indian officials say an outbreak of a deadly virus has not spread to any new areas but issued a series of warnings to people in stricken towns
Updated: 1 hour ago
Officials: Deadly Nipah virus has not spread in south India

Officials: Deadly Nipah virus has not spread in south India

Indian officials say an outbreak of a deadly virus has not spread to any new areas but issued a series of warnings to people in stricken towns
Updated: 1 hour ago

Report: Suspected Israeli strike targets Hezbollah in Syria

Syrian war-monitoring group says suspected Israeli strikes hit a Hezbollah base in central Syria
Updated: 1 hour ago
Thai police probe suspected illegal e-waste recycling

Thai police probe suspected illegal e-waste recycling

Police have raided factories near Bangkok that allegedly are processing illegally imported electronic waste, in a sign that China's crackdown on the waste recycling industry is pushing such operations offshore
Updated: 1 hour ago
Thai police probe suspected illegal e-waste recycling

Thai police probe suspected illegal e-waste recycling

Police have raided factories near Bangkok that allegedly are processing illegally imported electronic waste, in a sign that China's crackdown on the waste recycling industry is pushing such operations offshore
Updated: 1 hour ago
Thai police probe suspected illegal e-waste recycling

Thai police probe suspected illegal e-waste recycling

Police have raided factories near Bangkok that allegedly are processing illegally imported electronic waste, in a sign that China's crackdown on the waste recycling industry is pushing such operations offshore
Updated: 1 hour ago
UK first quarter economic growth confirmed at 0.1 percent

UK first quarter economic growth confirmed at 0.1 percent

Official figures have confirmed that the British economy barely grew in the first three months of the year, partly but not wholly because of the impact of a long protracted winter
Updated: 1 hour ago
Search for 'lost brides' of Cyprus stirs painful past

Search for 'lost brides' of Cyprus stirs painful past

A researcher looks into the case of her Turkish Cypriot great aunt, who was married off in the 1930s to a Palestinian merchant for a dowry pocketed by her impoverished father
Updated: 1 hour ago

Netherlands and Australia to hold Russia legally responsible for downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

Netherlands and Australia to hold Russia legally responsible for downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17
Updated: 1 hour ago
Officials: Weinstein to surrender in sexual misconduct probe

Officials: Weinstein to surrender in sexual misconduct probe

Harvey Weinstein is expected to turn himself in to police in New York City early Friday following a seven-month investigation into sexual assault allegations
Updated: 1 hour ago