Police: Owen County men pick wrong vehicle during rock-throwing spree, hit sheriff’s car

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Travis Lester (left) and Jonathan Koeling (right)

OWEN COUNTY, Ind. – Two Owen County men picked the wrong target when they threw rocks at a passing car.

Travis Lester, 23, and Jonathan Koeling, 25, face 19 counts of criminal recklessness and 19 counts of criminal mischief in connection with a series of rock-throwing incidents in northern Owen County.

Several drivers complained about getting struck by rocks on U.S. Highway 231. As a result, deputies patrolled the area in unmarked vehicles looking for the person who was throwing rocks at passing vehicles.

While traveling on the highway Tuesday, Sheriff Leonard “Sam” Hobbs’ vehicle was struck with a rock thrown from a passing vehicle. He relayed the vehicle’s description to deputies in the area, who stopped the car at the State Road 67 and U.S. 231 junction. The rock became lodged in the grill of Hobbs’ car.

Deputies found multiple rocks inside the vehicle and placed Lester and Koeling into custody; the rocks had been hidden under the passenger seat. Both men admitted to the rock-throwing incidents dating back to May 11, police said.

The men, who drove to and from work together almost every day, said they’d thrown an estimated 50 to 100 rocks during the last week, court documents said.

Investigators in southern Putnam County were investigating similar incidents that may be linked to Lester and Koeling.