In what appears to be a case of parking lot rage, a student at Decatur High School used his pickup as a battering ram after lunch Thursday.
According to witnesses, Josh Cummings, 17, plowed his pickup into the back of a car that had parked in a spot he wanted in a student parking section at the high school.
“Apparently one kid pulled into a parking space in the parking lot,” said Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins. “Another kid was wanting to go into it, and he ran into the back of the car that had pulled in.”
The impact shoved the parked car completely over the curb in front of it and into a small tree, causing extensive damage to the back end of the vehicle.
High school student Reid Metcalf, 18, and another student were still seated in the car when Cummings crashed into it. There were at least three other people in the pickup. No serious injuries were reported, but Metcalf did go to Wise Regional for an evaluation after suffering back pain from the incident.
“We’re still looking into whether it was intentional or not,” said Hoskins. “We don’t think it was an accident, but it’s still early in the investigation, and there are a lot of witnesses we still need to talk to.”
Many students were returning to class after lunch, and the parking lot was crowded. Students gathered around the wreckage gawking and snapping photos with their smart phones.
If investigators find the ramming was intentional, Cummings could face charges ranging from criminal mischief to aggravated assault with a motor vehicle. Anyone 17 or older in the state of Texas is legally considered an adult. If damage from the impact totals $1,500 or more, criminal mischief elevates from misdemeanor to felony, and the assault charge would be a felony.
“There was pretty extensive damage to the rear of the car,” Hoskins said. “But we’re still investigating it. There’s still a lot we have to get into.”
Researchers at Penn State University have identified parking lot rage as a type of territorial behavior.
“Parking lot fights are turf wars or power struggles and are carried out as symbolic fights that arouse our pride, stubbornness and negative stereotypes,” wrote the pair of researchers. “There is a general lack of civility in public places along with a cultural ‘in-the-face’ attitude that goes with a sense of entitlement to do as we please and to retaliate when we’re displeased.
“Parking rage is very common,” the report continued. “Most drivers experience anger and frustration in busy parking lots on busy days at busy times. This frustration and anger needs to be dealt with, or else it comes out into the open as a hostile or aggressive act.
“Once you express anger or hostility toward others, you have lost control of the situation because you never know how the other is going to react. If you don’t express your anger you retain control over the situation.”