Multiple authorities were needed to apprehend a man who reportedly pulled a gun and then a knife during a July 2 traffic stop near Wyoming that escalated into a high-speed chase on Interstate 35 southbound.
In the aftermath, Thomas Edward Weller, 45, of Oakdale, Minnesota, was charged with four felonies — second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon, terroristic threats, fleeing police in a motor vehicle and fleeing with other than a motor vehicle resulting in substantial bodily harm — and obstructing the legal process with force, a gross misdemeanor.
According to the complaint:
The incident began just before 6:30 p.m., when an officer responded to a possible impaired driver on southbound I-35 near Stacy. A witness said the driver of the suspect vehicle was dancing in a parking lot and appeared to be either drunk or high on drugs.
The officer found the vehicle heading south on the interstate near Viking Boulevard in Wyoming. Due to the driver’s abnormal behavior — putting his hands out the window and yelling at the officer — additional law enforcement was requested to respond. A traffic stop was conducted some miles after the vehicle, which was hauling a camper topper and a motorcycle on a trailer, slowed down and pulled over just south of the Wyoming exit before continuing on the interstate and repeatedly crossing the center and fog lines.
Weller was reportedly verbally aggressive with the officer during the traffic stop and denied driving on the shoulder of the road. He told the officer he was really angry “at you guys right now,” agitated and on his way to AA. He would not comply to the officer’s commands of keeping his hands visible.
Based on his training and experience, the officer believed Weller was under the influence of a controlled substance. He also observed a stainless steel revolver on the dashboard by the steering wheel of the suspect’s car.
The officer, deeming the man a serious threat to his safety, pulled his service weapon and commanded him to put his hands out of his window and not move for the revolver. Reportedly, Weller refused and laughed at the officer, saying, “What are you gonna do? … Shoot me? … (Expletive) Go ahead. … Come on, man. … Do it. … Pull the trigger.”
When the officer continued to order Weller to not reach for his gun, the suspect replied, “What? Don’t touch this gun? So what if I do?” The suspect then reached over and picked up the revolver by its hand grip — this despite commands to drop it — and moved the gun out the window and dropped it on the ground. The officer pushed the revolver away with his foot; the gun was later found to be loaded with five .357 soft point rounds.
At that time, the officer was joined by additional officers who also directed their weapons toward Weller, as he continued to ignore their commands. One of the officers requested Forest Lake Police to send its K-9 officer to assist in apprehending the man.
Told to exit his vehicle, Weller did, but would not get on the ground as instructed. Instead, he retrieved a 4- to 5-inch folding shaving razor, opened it and held it up to his neck while leaning on his vehicle and laughing at the officers.
An officer then retrieved a bean bag gun from his squad and eventually fired several bean bags at Weller, who was struck in the arm but acted as if no contact had been made. Prior to this measure, the suspect said he was going to AA to get help, and an officer replied that they would help if he would comply.
After being hit by bean bag, Weller got back into his vehicle and told the officers they could follow him to AA in Andover. He then drove away from the scene.
Requesting assistance from other agencies, the officers pursued the suspect vehicle, attempting an unsuccessful PIT maneuver, before Weller’s speed increased to about 92 mph. He continued south on I-35 to Lino Lakes, where officers deployed spike strips that ultimately deflated the tires of the suspect vehicle.
Though the Weller vehicle crashed into some trees, the suspect fled the scene on foot and jumped a fence into a residential area. He was located near the back deck of a house by Ranger, the Forest Lake K-9 officer. Surrounded by authorities, Weller then grabbed the police dog, “bear hugged” him and used Ranger as a shield. He said he would not let go of the dog.
Officers then deployed their stun guns on Weller, who let the dog go and went to the ground but still failed to comply with the officers’ commands. Resuming a physical struggle, he was shot with a stun gun at least three more times, with the K-9 continuing to bite his right arm, before he would comply with law enforcement.
Handcuffed and placed in custody, Weller was transported to the emergency department at Fairview Lakes Medical Center for medical treatment. Also requiring treatment was one of the officers who pursued the suspect on foot. The officer learned that his wrist and thumb tendon had been hyperextended, and he had stretched a nerve.
In addition to the suspect’s revolver, a .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle was found in Weller’s vehicle via a subsequent search.
Unconditional bail for Weller was set at $150,000 at his first court appearance July 3 in Chisago County District Court. Conditional bail was set at $75,000 on the condition that he not use or possess alcohol or controlled substances, submit to urinary analysis before release, be placed on formal pretrial release supervision, abstain from entering bars or places serving alcohol and not possess firearms, according to Chisago County Attorney Janet Reiter.
Weller’s next court appearance is scheduled for July 21.