Working in a stout former bank building with windows closed and air conditioners humming, Orleans County sheriff's deputies didn't know what was happening in their parking lot until a neighbor called 911.
A man on a big farm tractor, angry about his recent arrest for resisting arrest and marijuana possession, was rolling across their vehicles — five marked cruisers, one unmarked car and a transport van.
By the time they ran outside, the tractor was down the driveway and out onto the road.
With their vehicles crushed, "We had nothing to pursue him with," said Chief Deputy Philip Brooks.
Thursday afternoon's incident ended when city police in Newport, the county seat of the northern Vermont county, caught up with Roger Pion, 34, a short distance away.
No one was injured. At least two deputies had gone inside a few moments before after washing their vehicles, officials said.
"Nobody was hurt. That's the thing everybody's got to cherish," said Sheriff Kirk Martin.
Vermont State Police said in a statement that Pion would face seven counts of felony unlawful mischief, one count of misdemeanour unlawful mischief, one count aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, one count of gross negligent operation, and one count of leaving the scene of an accident.
Pion was being held at the Northern State Correctional Center in Newport on $15,000 bail.
Sheriffs said they did not know if Pion had a lawyer. A phone number for him could not be located.
Martin estimated damage to the vehicles at more than $300,000; state police put it at more than $250,000.
Not only were their roofs and hoods caved in, but "the radios are ruined, the radar detectors, the cages in the cars ... We're going to have to get the jaws of life up here to pry the trunks open and see about the rifles and shotguns," Martin said.
Brooks said the destroyed vehicles constituted more than half the fleet of sheriff's cruisers in the rural county on the Canadian border. Others were out on patrol at the time of the incident.