While in the church parking lot, Hicks had supposedly struck "several vehicles" before pushing a dumpster into the church building itself. He then ignored police commands to stop and instead hit the open road, often driving erratically, and topping out at about 20 mph, reports say. A line of police cars followed behind him, engaging in what officers called "a low-speed pursuit."
During the slow chase, reports say Hicks occasionally swerved into oncoming traffic, disregarded at least one red light and one stop sign, and even hit a police vehicle. Officers diverted traffic to protect the safety of other drives and did eventually utilize "stop sticks," otherwise known as "spike strips," with some degree of success. The suspect did manage to continue driving the tractor another several miles after he had hit the stop sticks, but the front tires eventually deflated.
Though the tractor's abilities had been compromised, police were still concerned about public safety, especially since the suspect had turned in the direction of a nearby elementary school. At that point, an officer used a firearm to deflate the rear tires as well.
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.
Hicks has been charged with a bevy of crimes, including two felonies and three misdemeanors: fleeing to elude arrest, assault with a deadly weapon on a government official, driving while impaired, resisting a public officer, and reckless driving. Hicks was also issued a citation for driving left of center. Other charges related to a stolen vehicle may be forthcoming as well.
Hicks has been booked into the Watauga County jail and assessed a $50,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in court again on March 10.
Police Chief Andy Le Beau noted that no one had been injured during the chase, not even the officer whose police vehicle had been struck, though that crash did cause thousands of dollars worth of damage. Police also indicated that some roads may have been damaged by the tractor after its front tires had deflated, in addition to the damage incurred by other cars and the church.
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