NEWPORT, VERMONT – A farmer angry over a recent arrest surprised police in Vermont on Thursday by driving his tractor over seven parked police cars before driving away.
Roger Pion, 34, had been arrested last month for resisting arrest and marijuana possession before rolling his farm tractor across their vehicles, demolishing five marked cruisers, one unmarked car and a transport van, police said.
‘We had nothing to pursue him with,’ said Newport Chief Deputy Philip Brooks, who went outside to see seven of his fleet’s 11 vehicles destroyed.
Working with their windows closed and air conditioners humming, Orleans County sheriff’s deputies said it was a neighbour’s call to 911 that alerted them to what had happened outside.
By the time officers were outside, the tractor was down the driveway and out onto the road.
‘It was a massive tractor. It has four six-foot tandem wheels on the back. It was red. It must be at least a 15-ton tractor,’ witness Ken Wells told the Burlington Free Press.
‘It’s pretty much the biggest tractor you can get,’ Police Chief Seth DiSanto told the paper.
All emotion: Roger Pion, 34, was angry over an arrest last month for resisting arrest and marijuana possession, prompting him to cause the damage estimated more than $300,000
Without a vehicle to pursue the tractor Brooks said he ran to a nearby service station where one of their cruisers was being worked on.
By the time he reached, however, Pion had been stopped about two miles up the road by city police in Newport.
No one was injured. At least two deputies had gone inside a few moments before after washing their vehicles, officials said.
‘Nobody was hurt. That’s the thing everybody’s got to cherish,’ said Sheriff Kirk Martin.
Pion is faces seven counts of felony unlawful mischief and one misdemeanor count of unlawful mischief on suspicion of damaging the cars, state police Detective Trooper Lyle Decker told the Free Press.
He said Pion was being held by the Vermont State Police at their barracks in nearby Derby. A dispatcher there referred questions to the sheriff’s department.
Sheriffs said they did not know if Pion had a lawyer. A phone number for him could not be located.
Martin estimated damage to the vehicles at more than $300,000. Not only were their roofs and hoods caved in, ‘the radios are ruined, the radar detectors, the cages in the cars… 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,’ Martin said.
Brooks said the vehicles destroyed constituted more than half the fleet of sheriff’s cruisers in the rural county on the Canadian border. Others were out on patrol at the time of the incident.