Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 1, 2012

Highway rock throwers charged in Antrim County

'This is very dangerous, very stupid behavior'

BY ART BUKOWSKI
abukowski@record-eagle.com

BELLAIRE — Four Charlevoix area men face criminal charges in Antrim County after authorities said they threw rocks at cars along a busy highway.

Joseph Allen Filipiak, 20, Joshua Michael Nitchman, 19, Dylan Jacob Putman, 19, and Thomas Gerald Rich, 20, each are charged with misdemeanor criminal counts of throwing objects at a train or car and malicious destruction of personal property less than $200.

None had been arrested as of Wednesday.

Antrim County Prosecutor Charles Koop said the group wandered over to U.S. 31 near the Charlevoix border on Aug. 9 at about 1 a.m. They began throwing pebbles and rocks at passing cars, Koop said.

"This is very dangerous, very stupid behavior," Koop said.

The group began with small rocks and eventually went larger, Koop said. One rock smashed a motorist's windshield. It's not clear how many vehicles were damaged.

Deputies eventually honed in on the group after someone overheard them talk about the incident, Antrim Sheriff Dan Bean said.

"What's amazing to me is that someone at that age would do something that stupid," he said. "These aren't 12-, 13- or 14-year-old kids."

A criminal charge for throwing rocks isn't often used. But the "shock factor" surely caused by the projectiles and the potential for a crash on such a busy road warrants repercussions, Koop said.

"When you decide to throw a rock at a moving vehicle, it's extremely dangerous," he said. "This is late at night, and people are driving along, and then they hear a loud crash on their windshield. That's shocking, and it could cause them to veer off or lose control of their vehicle."

Anyone who may have been struck by one of the group's rocks is asked to call the Antrim County prosecutor's office at (231) 533-6860.