Despite being barefoot and wearing only boxers, Brad Tucker didn’t hesitate to run outside his Rapid City home to confront a man trying to steal his pickup early Tuesday morning.
“I’m kind of crusty guy so I didn’t really take kindness to that,” the 62-year-old grandfather, referee, longtime Rapid City school administrator and former college football player said Thursday.
“I honestly didn’t even think about him having a weapon. I just decided that nobody was going to get away with my pickup that easy,” said Tucker, who now has a black eye, extensive road rash and just nine toenails. “When people try to mess with my property or my family, it doesn’t go over very well.”
Tucker later identified the man as Billy Robertson, a 33-year-old Rapid City man who the acting police chief said created “one of the largest crime scenes in Rapid City's history.”
Robertson is charged with 13 felonies for allegedly trying to assault and steal Tucker’s truck but also for stealing another pickup, breaking into two homes, and stabbing, assaulting or threatening five other people, including a child and police officer.
“I was shocked” to learn everything Robertson was accused of, Tucker said, noting that a man up the street was the stabbing victim.
Tucker worked as a vice principal and principal at Rapid City Area Schools from the mid-1990s to 2014. He previously coached high school sports and played football during his high school and college years.
He now officiates track meets, umpires high school baseball games and lives with his wife on Country Club Drive.
Tucker said he woke up around 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday after hearing “squealing tires and a crash right outside the front of my house.”
He said he looked outside his window and saw that a man had stolen his GMC Sierra from his garage but “turned too short” and crashed into a red pickup.
That other pickup was a Ford-F-150 that Robertson stole from another man at knife-point, police say.
Tucker said he walked outside wearing just his boxers to confront the man, who jumped out of the pickup.
He said he told the man that he wasn’t going to steal his pickup and the man responded, “yes, I am.”
Tucker then ran to his pickup to try to stop the man from stealing it while his wife called 911.
“The flight or fight syndrome kind of kicked in and I guess I fight instead of flight,” he said. “I am pretty athletic for my age.”
Tucker said he put his arm between the driver’s door as the man tried to close it. He was able to pry it open and put the man in a headlock.
“Let’s go for a ride,” Tucker said the man told him. “OK, let’s go for a ride,” Tucker responded.
Tucker said they began to travel at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour. He said he kept the headlock position but wasn’t able to get his legs in the truck so they were being dragged. That’s when one of his toenails was torn off.
He said he was eventually able to get his feet inside the pickup and throw the man out. They both tumbled out, which is when Tucker received his black eye and road rash covering the left side of his body.
Tucker said his pickup kept moving and went over a curb before mowing down a mail box and crashing into a nearby house.
Tucker said the man got back into the red pickup and drove west. He later heard sirens and gunshots.
Robertson had driven across a golf course and then drove toward an officer, police say. The officer fired at Robertson multiple times but didn’t hit him. Robertson was arrested on the 2000 block of 4th Avenue after fleeing on foot.
Tucker said an officer stopped by his home and drove him to 4th Avenue so police could determine whether the suspect in his case and another case were the same person.
He said he stayed inside the patrol vehicle as an officer brought Robertson out of another vehicle.
“There was no doubt, it was obviously him,” Tucker said.
He was then taken to the hospital where X-rays and a CAT scan found he suffered no brain damage or broken bones from falling out of the pickup.
Tucker said he’d never seen Robertson before that morning and he had been speaking “gibberish.”
He said he doesn’t know the other victims either but “feels sorry for them.”
Tucker’s pickup ended up wrecked from crashing into the home, but he did succeed with his goal of not letting it be stolen.
“People shouldn’t mess with mean old men,” he said.
— Contact Arielle Zionts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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