Rock throwers terrorize South Austin neighborhood, damage homes

Terrorized in their own homes: that's how some neighbors describe what they're going through as vandals throw rocks at their houses

AUSTIN - Some neighbors who live in the Skyway neighborhood in South Austin are being terrorized by vandals throwing rocks at their homes.

Neighbors like Patricia Potyka claim she's scared to live in her own home.

"It's an odd strange feeling to be in your home and to feel unsafe," said the single mother. 

But unsafe is how Potyka and her seven-year-old daughter have been feeling, especially after the latest attack that happened Saturday night.

The rock throwing started four years ago.

"These three windows here have all been replaced once. The top one I had a special glass that wouldn't shatter. And that's the one that was smashed the other night," explained Potyka.

This has not been easy on her.

 "I'm really at my wit's end. I don't know what to do," the mother said through tears.

Especially since it involves her 7-year-old daughter, Nevada.

"I hear the glass breaking," Nevada said as she explained what happened Saturday. 

She answered KVUE'S Jenni Lee's questions.

"How did that make you feel?"

"Scared," said the little girl.

"What did you think was going to happen?"

"That it was going to hit me in the head like when I was 3," said Nevada.

Nevada was only a toddler when the first incident happened in her own backyard. 

Potyka's neighbor, Shawn Hake, has a fear now that his young children will suffer the same fate.

"It's not safe. If I got my babies and I got my other daughter and they're playing around and a rock comes through the window and hits them in the head and glass going all over the place, that's not safe," Hake said.

Hake has a five-year-old daughter and twins on the way. Rock throwers broke a window at his home several months ago.  

Austin Police Sgt. Noel Guerin said there have been eight rock-throwing cases in the past four years in the Skyway neighborhood, but he is certain there are many more incidents, only neighbors have not reported them, which he said is a problem.

His best advice for the neighbors is to call when they see something suspicious immediately.

"I think there's been a number of times when they've seen people walking on the tracks and they don't call and let us know, so that's the big thing. If you see something, say something. We're not psychic: we can't respond if we don't know about it," Sgt. Guerin said.

We reached out to Union Pacific, the company that owns the railroad line behind the Skyway neighborhood.

Jeff DeGraff confirmed to KVUE that the vandals are also trying to hit trains with rocks. DeGraff said since the rock throwing incidents started four years ago, they've brought in special agents to randomly patrol their rail line.

DeGraff also said they are working with the city to see which public right of ways may need fencing to try to prevent issues like trespassing. DeGraff said they want to also have a conversation about sharing that financial responsibility.

There is a phone number people can call 24/7 to report anything suspicious. It's called the Railroad Response Management Call Center.

That number is 888-877-7267.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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