Police declined to disclose what might have motivated two Arkansas men charged in the crime, Vincent T. Anderson of Little Rock and his alleged accomplice, Marcus E. Jones of Cotton Plant. But the men were in custody shortly after the car struck three of the six runners, including university provost Ron Rosati.
The men were charged later in the day, said Sgt. Brad Smith of the Cape Girardeau Police Department. Anderson, 19, faces five felony counts, including three for first-degree assault along with tampering with a motor vehicle and resisting arrest. Anderson also faces a misdemeanor charge of leaving the scene of an accident. He was being held on a $75,000 cash-only bond, Smith said.
Police say that Jones, 27, was the passenger in the 1994 Ford Thunderbird that had been reported stolen shortly before 7 a.m., about 10 minutes before the victims phoned 911. Jones has been handed counts of second-degree vehicle tampering and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors. Jones was held on a $15,000 cash-only bond.
Arrest warrants and other court documents were not available Sunday, but Smith said investigators have come to believe that the driver hit the pedestrians on purpose.
"Based on our investigation," he said, "we believe it was a deliberate act."
The incident took place over a short period of time early Sunday morning, with a report coming in shortly before 7 a.m. that a Thunderbird had been stolen near the intersection of Broadway and West End Boulevard. Ten minutes hadn't passed, Smith said, when police received a call reporting a "vehicular assault" at the intersection of William and South Main streets.
Rosati, who was hired as Southeast provost in 2009, in an interview with the Southeast Missourian, was mystified as to why someone would so blatantly try to hurt them.
"I can't understand why someone would do that," Rosati said. "It was just random. It doesn't make any sense to me. But it wasn't an accident. It was some crazy guy just acting crazy."
All three that were hurt walked away from the incident, Rosati said, although one woman did go to a hospital for treatment. Rosati said he injured an ankle, a hip, his right side and his left shoulder.
But it could have been much worse, he said.
He and his friends were running in front of the Thunderbird, which was idling at the intersection at a stop sign, Rosati said. Rosati remembers turning and offering a friendly wave to the driver. After they passed, Rosati said he barely noticed the sound of the Thunderbird accelerating from the stop sign. But he did look back and saw the car swerving -- across lanes -- toward them, he said.
"He cut across all of the lanes to get at us," Rosati said.
Next he knew, the impact knocked Rosati onto the hood of the still-moving car, for how long he's not sure. He does remember asking himself why the driver wasn't stopping. He also considered the possibility of falling off the hood into the path of the car and being run over, he said.
"If it had been a Hummer or a truck, we would not have been on the car," Rosati said. "We would have been under it."
Most likely within seconds, the runners were on the ground and nursing their wounds.
Within the hour, the men were apprehended on North Henderson Avenue, basically without incident, police said, though they attempted to flee.
Casey Mills saw some of that scene play out because he lives on that block and was awakened by his dog's excited barks and then the yelling.
Later, he saw the police put the men in the back of their patrol cars.
"It's scary that it's in my backyard," Mills said. "It can happen anywhere. People can get drunk, do a bunch of bath salts and do all kinds of crazy stuff. Now they're stealing cars and running through joggers. That is insane."
Broadway and West End Boulevard, Cape Girardeau, Mo.
William Street and South Main Street, Cape Girardeau, Mo.