A Michigan man has been sentenced to 12 to 15 years in prison after he threw a rock into a group of pedestrians over the summer, killing one and seriously injuring three others, according to prosecutors.
Thomas Cole, 32, was convicted on three counts of second-degree murder, one count of first-degree assault and two counts of malicious destruction of property in the June 2017 incident in Mount Clemens, according to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office.
Cole threw a 15-pound rock at his neighbor, 75-year-old Michael Cnossen, then at a group of people on a sidewalk, including a 75-year-old man named Jonathan Pineda, who was riding a bicycle, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office said at the time. The rock struck Cnossen in the back, according to WXYZ.
At about 5:12 p.m. on June 27, 2017, a witness saw Cole throwing a rock and called 911, the sheriff’s office said.
Police found several men walking near Pineda’s home who were injured by the rock, authorities said. Three pedestrians were taken to the hospital.
Pineda was treated for his injuries and released. Cnossen was taken to Oakwood Hospital, and later transferred to the Jackson County Medical Center.
On June 28, 2017, Cole was interviewed by the Royal Oak Police Department and agreed to a blood draw. That day, Cole tested positive for marijuana and methadone, the report said.
A witness told police that Cole had a “shocking outburst” because he didn’t want his neighbor’s tree cut down because it blocked his view of the mountains, the report said.
Cole “incensed the witness … and had an irate interaction with the witness” by threatening to kill him, the report said.
Prosecutors said the incident led Cole to engage in a “rock throwing spree” throughout the greater Oakland County area, including Ann Arbor, which is known for a “Silent Protest” protest that happens there every year on May Day. He threw a rock at Ann Arbor police officers and “twice” smashed windows with rocks, officials said.
Cole threw at least two rocks and a firebomb on the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan.
After being interviewed by police, Cole took off in his vehicle. He was eventually pulled over by police, who discovered he was armed with a 9mm semi-automatic pistol and arrested him without incident. He was found to have a valid concealed pistol license, authorities said.
He was arraigned in a 25-count grand jury indictment in Oakland County, including first-degree murder, murder of a person less than 50 years old, destruction of property greater than $2,500 and five counts of possessing a firearm while under disability.
The Michigan Court of Appeals denied the Appeals Court’s request to suppress the blood draw for use as evidence in Cole’s trial and ordered a new trial for Cole. The first trial also ended in a conviction, but a judge subsequently granted him a new trial, citing problems with Cole’s attorneys.
Prosecutors said Cnossen died of “massive blunt force trauma,” according to The Oakland Press. Pineda suffered head trauma and several fractured ribs, investigators said.
Cole’s attorneys could not be reached for comment Wednesday.