Leominster man steals brother’s car, evades traffic stop, drives home, gets arrested by SWAT team
LEOMINSTER — On Thursday, Oct. 6, John Geissler, a 44-year-old Hill Street resident, managed to evade Patrolman Shane Crawford’s attempted traffic stop.
Five days later, at around 11:35 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 11, Patrolman Crawford saw Geissler again. This time, Geissler was driving ahead of him on Pleasant Street in a 2004 Subaru Legacy. In the passenger seat next to Geissler was his elderly mother, who police say suffers from “cognitive issues.”
“I knew it to be Mr. Geissler as I was directly behind this motor vehicle, and he began looking back and staring at me in his driver’s side rear view mirror,” wrote Patrolman Crawford in his Narrative. “I checked Mr. Geissler’s license status and it came back suspended.”
According to Officer Crawford’s Narrative, he waited until they were on a straighter section of Pleasant Street where it would be safter to conduct a traffic stop “given Mr. Geissler’s propensity to flee.”
Once they reached 242 Pleasant Street, Officer Crawford activated his emergency lights and siren in an attempt to pull Geissler over.
Geissler didn’t stop, instead, he accelerated to about 50 miles per hour.
“Mr. Geissler then began making abrupt steering movements and both driver’s side tires crossed over the double yellow lines,” said Patrolman Crawford in his Narrative. “Mr. Geissler was essentially traveling in both lanes of travel, with the vehicle being directly in the middle of the street. At this point it was clear that Mr. Geissler was not going to pull over and stop, so I turned off my emergency lights and siren.”
According to Patrolman Crawford, he slowed down to the speed limit and watched as Geissler made a hard right turn onto Hill Street, where he resides.
Officer Crawford then pulled up to Geissler’s 35 Hill Street residence. Parked in the driveway was the Subaru Legacy, which police later learned belongs to Geissler’s brother.
“I walked up to the vehicle and it was unoccupied,” wrote Patrolman Crawford in his Narrative. “I then heard very loud screaming coming from within the residence, in what sounded like Korean. John was yelling at his mother in Korean and then she began yelling back at him. This continued for approximately a minute and I asked for my backup unit to respond as I feared for the wellbeing of John’s mother. After a minute, John must have then noticed me, as he began yelling various threats at officers present. I heard things such as ‘I’M GONNA F$CKING SHOOT YOU PIGS!’ ‘IF YOU DON’T GET OFF MY LAND I AM GOING TO F&CKING SHOOT YOU!’ Please note that these threats of violence did place me in fear, given John’s excited state.”
Following Geissler’s threat to the officers, Patrolman Crawford deployed his patrol rifle while Sgt. Sean Ferguson, Officer Anthony Eydenberg and Patrolman Carlos Cintron approached the home in an attempt to “establish communication” with Geissler.
Through an open window, Geissler told police that he was not going to let them inside his residence because he “didn’t want to go back to jail,” adding that they were going to have to “catch him on the street,” Patrolman Crawford said. Geissler’s mother, who was standing beside him in the window, assured police that she was “okay.”
After this, Sgt. Ferguson took over for Patrolman Crawford, so he could go back to the station to obtain an arrest warrant for Geissler. The charges in the warrant included: Threats to Commit a Crime, Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle, Failure to Stop for Police, Operating a Motor Vehicle with License Suspended, Subsequent Offense, Marked Lanes Violation, and Speeding.
According to Sgt. Sean Ferguson’s Narrative, Officer Eydenberg asked Geissler to come outside, but he refused. Sgt. Ferguson said that Geissler then “abruptly stopped communicating with officers on scene” and shut the window, cutting off all contact with the officers surrounding the perimeter of his home.
“The way Geissler talked, it was apparent he was in a mental crisis, possibly not taking his medications or hallucinating,” wrote Sgt. Ferguson in his Narrative. “Due to Mr. Geissler’s actions and statements, I concluded he was a severe danger to his mother and others in the area. I completed the Section 12 paperwork.” (A Section 12 is a compulsory admission of a mentally disordered person to a hospital. It’s governed by Massachusetts General Law Chapter 123, Section 12).
When Geissler cut off all contact with police, Sgt. Ferguson reached out to the Massachusetts State Police’s Special Tactical Operations (STOP) Team for backup.
A short time later, multiple units of the state police arrived on scene and assumed tactical control of the scene. Patrolman Crawford also returned to the scene to give the warrant to the state police.
Hours later, Geissler was apprehended.
“After an extended period, State Police made entry and took Geissler into custody, on the warrant and Section 12,” wrote Sgt. Ferguson in his Narrative. “He was transferred to our custody and transported to the hospital under arrest. His mother was checked by medics and refused medical treatment.”
Officer Crawford, who accompanied Geissler to the hospital, said he observed a large welt bleeding on the back of Geissler’s left leg and a small abrasion on his arm while in the ambulance. Geissler told Patrolman Crawford the wounds were from “beanbag rounds” fired by the state police.
After the state police units cleared the scene and Geissler was sent to the hospital, Sgt. Ferguson and Officer Eydenberg spoke to Geissler’s mother, who “invited” them into her home, according to Sgt. Ferguson.
On the counter in a Tupperware container Sgt. Ferguson saw multiple bags of marijuana in an amount that he eyeballed as being greater than the legal limit. After seizing the marijuana, police also found a bag of “magic mushrooms” aka “shrooms” – a Class C substance – in the Tupperware container. There were also vapor cartridges of marijuana concentrate and small glass containers full of another form of marijuana concentrate, a waxy yellow substance called “dabs,” in the container. According to Sgt. Ferguson, the drugs were placed into evidence for “safekeeping pending further investigation.”
A day later on Oct. 12, Patrolman Crawford called Geissler’s brother, Michael, who was the owner of the Subaru Legacy that John had been driving prior to his arrest.
When Patrolman Crawford got him on the phone, Geissler’s brother said that he was on vacation, which prompted the officer to ask if he had given his brother permission to drive his vehicle while he was away.
“Michael stated ‘No’ adding that ‘I don’t let anyone drive the car beside myself,” wrote Patrolman Crawford in his Narrative. “I asked Michael how John had obtained the keys to his vehicle. Michael stated that the keys were secured in a safe that was in his apartment in the basement. Michael stated that John forced open the (locked) door to his apartment and then cut into the safe to retrieve the keys. Michael then stated that John ‘Stole everything he owned.’”
Following this discussion, Geissler was also charged with Use of Motor Vehicle without Authority.
After his warrant arrest, Geissler was held in Worcester County Jail on bail.
His cash bail was set at $15,040.
Geissler is going to be arraigned in Leominster District Court for the Use of Motor Vehicle without Authority charge on Nov. 11.
Disclaimer: If you are wondering why the incident in this story was from the beginning of the month, that’s because I had to file a FOIA request to get the Personnel Narratives for the incident. FOIAs are time consuming.