According to reports, a North Carolina man “very familiar” with law enforcement led officers on an “hour-long pursuit” of a John Deere tractor that he had stolen.
Police in Boone, North Carolina received a call Tuesday morning about a tractor driver who had hit several cars and tried to hit pedestrians. The tractor was found in the Three Forks Baptist Church parking lot. Police immediately identified the driver as Ronnie K. Hicks (a 43-year-old man we know well), according to a Boone PD report.
Hicks was allegedly found in a church parking lot and had “several cars” before pushing a trash can into the church. Reports say that Hicks then drove off, disregarding police orders to stop, driving erratically, and reaching speeds of around 20 mph. He was followed by a line of police cars, who engaged in “a low-speed chase.”
Reports say Hicks sometimes swerved into traffic during the slow chase. He also disregarded at least one stop sign and red light and even struck a police car. To protect other drivers, officers diverted traffic and eventually used “stop sticks,” also known as “spike strips,” with some success. Although the suspect was able to drive the tractor for several more miles after hitting the stop sticks, the front tires eventually burst.
Even though the tractor’s capabilities were compromised, police still feared for public safety because the suspect was heading towards an elementary school nearby. An officer also used a firearm in order to inflate the rear tires.
Hicks managed to steer the tractor onto a private drive, where he eventually “ran out of road,” the police report says. He then took off on foot, wielding a knife. However, he didn’t get far. Police quickly subdued the suspect with a Taser gun and arrested him. The entire incident lasted over an hour.
There was a police chase this morning in Boone involving a John Deere tractor that lasted for more than an hour and topped out at 20 mph and YES THERE IS VIDEO https://t.co/IFZxSZNR2i pic.twitter.com/GAIlzEkfvP
— Jeremy Markovich (@deftlyinane) January 17, 2023
Hicks was charged with several crimes, including two felonies as well as three misdemeanors, such as fleeing from arrest, assault with a deadly weapon on a government official and driving while impaired, resisting an officer of the public, and reckless driving. Hicks also received a citation for driving off-center. Hicks could also face charges for stealing a vehicle.
Hicks was booked in the Watauga County Jail and given a $50,000 bond. Hicks is due to return to court on March 10.
Andy Le Beau, Chief of Police, noted that nobody was hurt during the chase. Not even the officer whose vehicle had been hit. However, the crash caused thousands of dollars in damage. Police indicated that the tractor’s front tires may have deflated and caused damage to some roads. This was in addition to other vehicles and the church.