Police in Vermont in hot pursuit of a suspect were without wheels when their quarry, an irate farmer with a tractor, allegedly crushed nearly half the department’s fleet of vehicles.
Orleans County police say 34-year-old Roger Pion, of Newport, Vt., drove a red tractor over seven vehicles in the parking lot of the county’s Sheriff’s Department Thursday afternoon, flattening their quest to apprehend the suspect.
Police inside the department’s office were unaware of the destruction happening outside until they received a 911 call and heard a horn blaring outside, Chief Deputy Philip Brooks told the Burlington Free Press.
Left with no cars, Brooks had to run to a nearby service station where another car was being worked on to try to catch Pion.
“We had nothing to pursue him with,” Brooks told the paper. “It’s more than half our fleet. We have 11 cars.”
Pion was caught by authorities from the rural city’s police department about one mile from the Sheriff’s office and arrested on 11 charges. He is being held at the Northern State Correctional Center in Newport on $15,000 bail.
He is expected in court today to face seven counts of felony unlawful mischief, one misdemeanor count of unlawful mischief on suspicion of damaging the cars, one charge of leaving the scene of an accident, one count of grossly negligent operation and aggravated assault on Newport City police after he allegedly tried to back the tractor into a city cruiser while being pursued.
Police say that Pion had been arrested last month by Newport city police for charges of resisting arrest and possession of marijuana.
Pion was issued a citation in those cases and ordered to appear in Superior Court next Tuesday. He was also held overnight in jail the night of that arrest at the request of the Vermont Probation and Parole Office, according to police.
No one was hurt in the incident but police estimated damage to the vehicles as high as $250,000.
“We’re going to have to get the jaws of life up here to pry the trunks open and see about the rifles and shotguns,” Sheriff Kirk Martin told the Associated Press. “The radios are ruined.”
Newport City Police declined to comment on the case to ABC News.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.