VAN WERT — The man killed by deputies Tuesday morning spent more than an hour on the phone with dispatchers, deputies and officers, threatening to ram authorities and even a school bus with the stolen semi truck cab if they didn’t back away from the pursuit.
“Tell Spencerville PD to back all this up, or I’ll (expletive) kill everyone out here,” the man on the call said. “I’m not kidding here. You’d better back off.”
The 911 calls were released to the media after requests from The Lima News.
Over the course of 12 different, profanity-laced 911 calls, the man who called himself “Jim” and was later identified as Terry “Rusty” Pierce Jr., 46, of Spencerville, repeated his demand that authorities back away from the truck. He refused to pull it over and never said where he wanted to go. He continued to threaten to drive into other vehicles, repeating he wasn’t “stupid” or a “dumb-dumb” throughout his calls.
During a conversation with Sgt. Kyle Miller, the acting chief of the Spencerville Police Department, he suggested he wanted to force officers to kill him.
“This is the route we’re taking. I will make every one of you shoot me dead, Kyle. That’s how tired of life I am, brother,” he said.
According to a Wednesday news release from Allen County Sheriff Matt Treglia, Pierce stole the truck from GLM Transport in Van Wert. Deputies tried to negotiate with Pierce over the phone, but officers judged he was a danger to himself and others. He began driving the wrong way on U.S. 30, heading east on the westbound lanes. The SWAT team opened fire and killed him.
“I, 100%, stand behind these officers and this administration for the way this was handled,” Treglia said Wednesday. “I can honestly tell you, this guy had bad intentions of hurting citizens in Allen County, and there was no way I was going to let that happen.”
Throughout the 911 calls, dispatchers and officers begged him to slow down and to pull to the side of the road.
“Honey, I just want you to slow down so you don’t have an accident,” one dispatcher said. “I want you to be safe.”
The 911 audio answered few questions about why the incident occurred in the first place. Pierce mentioned being tired of people laughing at him and claimed to go to jail for something he didn’t do. In July 2018, Pierce was charged with domestic violence in Lima Municipal Court. He pleaded without jail time, but he was arrested for a failure to comply in June. He was resentenced to 30 days, with credit for 14 days.
Pierce had a prolonged conversation with Miller. He agreed to pull over at an exit on U.S. 30 near Delphos but didn’t stop after hitting an Ohio State Highway Patrol vehicle at the exit.
“Now you (expletive) overdid it, buddy,” Miller said after the driver ran a state trooper off the road. “… You’re only making it worse for yourself.”
Pierce responded, “I don’t give a (expletive) about life anymore, Kyle. I lost everything in my (expletive) life. I don’t care anymore.”
Pierce also spent prolonged time on the phone with Det. Callie Basinger of the Allen County Sheriff’s Office. She kept asking him, “What’s going on today?” He responded by demanding to talk to Miller and refusing to stop.
The call also includes Pierce complaining about someone accusing him of stealing the truck, his frustration when one of the tires of the cab had been shot out and his astonishment when a car tried to ram into him to get him off the road. Near the end, while talking to a Van Wert County deputy, he complained about pain in his eyes in his last words on the calls. The deputy pleads with him to stop and get out of the truck.
Early in the chase, Pierce threatened to hit a school bus from behind.
“There’s a busload of kids in front of me. They’d better back off right now,” Pierce said.
The dispatcher answered, “Sweetie, those kids don’t have anything to do with this whole mess.”
He answered, “They don’t, but just do your jobs.”
He said he didn’t have to stop, as he had a full fuel tank. “I have a fuel tank of fuel, and I can go for miles,” Pierce said.
A dispatcher told him, “You have my lieutenant’s word that if you just stop, you won’t get hurt.”
Pierce kept repeating he wouldn’t pull over unless authorities backed away, sounding resigned to a bad outcome.
“Point blank, I do not care anymore. I’m not just having a bad day, ma’am,” Pierce said.
Reach David Trinko at 567-242-0467.