CLINTON — A Clinton man is facing multiple charges after allegedly stealing a school bus from a private driveway in Charlotte.
A Clinton County Sheriff’s Office release states Thomas J. Ruchotzke, 38, of Clinton, is charged with operating without owner’s consent, third-degree criminal mischief and driving while license suspended. Ruchotzke also was wanted on two Clinton County District Court warrants for controlled substance violations. Clinton County sheriff’s deputies on Tuesday took Ruchotzke into custody after a brief standoff.
According to the affidavit, at 5:03 p.m. Tuesday, Clinton County sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to a vehicle theft in Charlotte. The initial reporter, a Northeast School District bus driver, said someone had stolen a school bus from his residence. He stated the school bus was heading west on Park Avenue. The male stated the bus hit a mailbox as it drove away. Deputies arrived at 5:18 p.m. in Charlotte and located the school bus in a parking lot at Park Avenue and Center Street. The bus was stuck in a snow drift.
The affidavit states a deputy could see one person, later identified as Ruchotzke, was sitting in the driver’s seat and was the only occupant of the vehicle. The deputy used his loud speaker to get Ruchotzke’s attention and asked him to step out of the bus. Ruchotzke declined to exit the bus, stating he owned the bus. Ruchotzke allegedly provided the deputy with a false name. The deputy again asked Ruchotzke to exit the vehicle. Ruchotzke pointed at the deputy with two fingers and said “bang.” Ruchotzke told the deputy he did not have any weapons on the bus.
The affidavit continues that two deputies later arrived at the scene, as did a DeWitt police officer. Law enforcement members approached the bus and opened the rear door, attempting to make contact with Ruchotzke, who was not talking loud enough for officers to understand him. The deputy approached Ruchotzke on the driver’s side of the bus.
Ruchotzke talked to the deputy for several minutes. He said he owned the bus and was just stuck and needed help getting the vehicle out. Ruchotzke then handed the deputy a penny and stated it was good medication. Ruchotzke stated he was just fine living on the bus and needed a push to get going. Ruchotzke said several times that he was Northeast Schools. He stated his name was on the side of the bus, meaning it was his bus. The deputy told Ruchotzke he did not own the school bus. He requested Ruchotzke exit the bus so officers could talk with him.
The affidavit states a deputy made contact with Ruchotzke from the passenger sliding door of the bus. The deputy was able to get Ruchotzke to open the bus door. The deputy talked to Ruchotzke and asked him several times to exit the bus. Ruchotzke said he was not leaving the bus. The deputy warned Ruchotzke it was time to leave the bus or officers would have to take him off the bus by force. Ruchotzke again declined to leave the bus. A deputy deployed his Taser to Ruchotzke’s upper back. Ruchotzke was pulled off the bus and taken into custody.
The affidavit states Ruchotzke, when driving the bus, struck two mailboxes and damaged the front of the bus. The bus was later driven away by Northeast School District employees.