A John Deere tractor led police in a low-speed chase last week in Boone, North Carolina. According to the Waatauga County 911 center, they received a call about a man on a tractor trying to attack pedestrians and vehicles while traveling on Highway 421.
As police officers Boone and Watauga Sherriff’s deputies responded to the call, they received more reports of tractors hitting multiple vehicles. First officers found the suspect, Ronnie K. Hicks, 43, in the parking lot of the Three Forks Baptist church. Still operating the tractor, Hicks pushed a dumpster into the church building and then drove off at low speed followed by police officers.
Law enforcement officers chased the tractor on US Highway 421, Old Highway 421, and Elk Creek Road, working to divert oncoming traffic to protect motorists in the area. Hicks continued to drive erratically, swerving back and forth into traffic in an attempt to throw off the chase. At least four vehicles were damaged by the tractor, including a Ford Explorer patrol vehicle which was accidentally rammed. Damage to all vehicles is estimated at thousands of dollars.
Finally, the police deployed stop batons to stop the chase. They managed to deflate both front tires, but the tractor kept going. As the chase continued toward a local school, raising concerns about public safety, law enforcement officers were authorized to shoot the tractor tires. Using their shotguns, they deflated both rear tires, slowing the chase down considerably.
The tractor swerved onto a private line, whereupon Hicks abandoned the tractor, fleeing on foot. He brandished knives at law enforcement officers, one of whom used a Taser after Hicks failed to follow the officer’s orders. Eventually, he was arrested and charged with various misdemeanors and crimes, including tractor theft, evading arrest, driving while distracted, and reckless driving.
Police were quick to commend the swift response and cooperation of various law enforcement agencies, who resolved this incident unscathed. Currently, Hicks is being held on $50,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in court on March 10.