A 37-year-old Yelm man potentially experiencing a mental health crisis was arrested Wednesday, June 9, after he allegedly rammed a gate twice at the Ramtha School of Enlightenment, hit a patrol vehicle and later assaulted two police officers.
Yelm Assistant Police Chief Rob Carlson said Wilburn C. Hutcheson was initially booked into the Thurston County Jail for two counts of third-degree assault, one count of first-degree malicious mischief and two counts of endangerment.
Carlson, citing a police report, said the initial call to dispatch came in at about 5 p.m. on Wednesday from Hutcheson’s wife who told police her husband was having a bipolar episode and was driving recklessly.
She later told a Yelm detective that before she called, Hutcheson had taken their children with him in the vehicle and rammed a Ramtha gate, Carlson said. He returned to his residence with the children unharmed.
When Hutcheson took his vehicle back out on the road again, his wife called the police, Carlson said.
“Officer (Brian) Bard was driving in the area and actually saw him driving down Yelm Avenue, turned around and Mr. Hutcheson drove through the gate (at JZ Knight’s ranch),” Carlson said. “(Bard) didn’t see him ram it, but obviously he later discovered that it was rammed.”
Bard then followed Hutcheson into the compound, where the two came into contact in an open field.
After refusing to cooperate with Bard, Hutcheson got into his vehicle and drove around the ranch’s back trails, Carlson said.
As the chase through the narrow trails continued, a friend of Hutcheson reportedly arrived at the ranch and saw the chase in progress.
“One of (Hutcheson’s) family friends was aware of him being on the property,” Carlson said. “So he went out there in his truck, saw the police officer chasing (Hutcheson). He went up the other direction on the trail (and) blocked (Hutcheson’s) vehicle.”
Accepting the help, Bard pinned Hutcheson’s vehicle from behind, keeping him to one place in the trail system.
“That’s when (Hutcheson) put his vehicle in reverse and rammed the officer in the vehicle,” Carlson said. “Officer Bard then goes out to make contact with (Hutcheson) who was in the driver's seat of the truck. (Hutcheson) comes out and was very aggressive and assaulted the officer by punching him in the face.”
Carlson said Bard and Hutcheson began to fight, rolling around on the ground, with Bard eventually deploying his Taser on Hutcheson.
At that point, Hutcheson tried to get his friend to help him escape, but the friend would not do so and the fight continued, with Bard being punched again, Carlson said.
Officer Jared Geray arrived at the ranch and attempted to find the location of the fight, which was deep in the trail system.
“The stressful piece was I had an officer fighting with somebody and you can hear him calling out — telling them to expedite, that he’s fighting — and my second officer’s trying to find him and he can’t,” Carlson said. “Our dispatcher was great in the fact that she was able to … give (Geray) some indication of whether he was close or not, and he was able to find them with the help of the dispatch.”
Once Geray was able to locate the altercation, he reportedly provided support to Bard as the fight continued.
Since the trail was so narrow — with a berm on one side and thick vegetation on the other — the situation was a challenge to navigate, Carlson said.
“Ultimately, after multiple Taser contacts, pepper spray, the officers being assaulted, and with the assistance of (Hutcheson’s) friend, they were able to get him into custody and place him in the back of the police vehicle,” Carlson said.
After a medical team checked Hutcheson for injuries, he was booked into the Thurston County Jail. Carlson said Hutchinson would be able to receive aid in custody for bipolar disorder.
“It was fairly dynamic, and we’re just glad that the officers weren’t (seriously) injured,” Carlson said. “Officer Bard had to go to the emergency room to get checked out because of his injuries and officer Geray also received some injuries as well. So they’re safe, and they were able to go home.”