Police lights

A report of a shot fired in Rock Creek led to the arrest of the alleged shooter, and further investigation led to a high-speed chase and arrest of the person shot at in the incident. 

According to the criminal complaint filed in Pine County Court, Pine County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded at 3:57 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 30, to a report that a man had shot at another man in a Jeep at the Rock Creek Pit Stop gas station on Highway 70. 

A witness told deputies he was getting gas at the station when a Jeep pulled up to the pumps opposite of him. A red Dodge Ram pickup then pulled up to the gas pumps opposite the Jeep.

The witness said that a man, later identified as Thor Ronald Robinson, 43, of Pine City, exited the driver side door of the Dodge and approached the Jeep’s driver with a gun in his hand. Robinson allegedly opened the Jeep’s door and pointed a black revolver at the driver, shouting at him to get on the ground.

The Jeep driver appeared to try to shut his door before quickly driving away from the gas station. The witness said that Robinson fired one gunshot at the rear of the Jeep as it was driving away. The witness also said that Robinson said, “Sorry, cop,” to him before getting back into the Dodge truck and speeding out of the gas station parking lot. The witness said he also saw another male, later identified as Todd Johnston, leave the passenger side of the Dodge and come towards the Jeep, but went back to the truck once Robinson shot at the Jeep.

Deputies report that station surveillance footage showed events as the witness had described them. They also saw many cars coming and going, and commuters returning to their cars in the carpooling parking lot area, which was in the direction the shot was fired. 

Pine County dispatch informed the deputies that a 911 call was made by Johnston, the Dodge passenger, around 3:57 p.m., in which he said he was following Jesse Leroy Boster, 37, of Hinckley, who he believed had warrants  for his arrest and was driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee. On the recording a male can be heard saying, “Didn’t you let him get out?” prior to dispatch answering the call. Johnston did not report the shooting incident during the 911 call.

Deputies went to Robinson’s home, but he was not there. Deputies then called Johnston. According to the deputy, Johnston said that he and Robinson were concerned about a theft of motorcycles from a business in North Branch owned by Johnston’s son. He said they were looking for the Jeep driver, Boster. 

 

Robinson speaks to deputies

On Aug. 31, around 12:15 a.m., Robinson contacted the sheriff’s office, and a deputy came to his home. According to the deputy, Robinson said he was working his own investigation on Boster. He said he was in contact with a Drug Enforcement Agency agent out of the cities who gave him instructions on how to conduct a citizen’s arrest. He told the deputy he arranged to set up a “buy” from Boster at the Rock Creek Pit Stop. He said he went to the gas station to meet Boster, saw Boster at one of the pumps, exited his truck, and approached Boster. He said that Boster jumped back into his Jeep and slammed the car door. He then opened Boster’s door and grabbed Boster to pull him out of the car. Robinson told the deputy that as he did this he thought he saw Boster going for what he thought was a gun, so he drew his own revolver and fired one round at Boster as Boster drove away. 

Robinson said that he got back into his truck and chased Boster northbound on Interstate 35 until Boster turned around in the median and drove southbound. Robinson stated he thought he saw Boster “flip him off” and flash the gun at him again. Robinson said he attempted to follow Boster southbound but lost him in traffic. He said he wanted to get Boster’s plate number to report it to a “criminal apprehension team,” but they had not returned his call. 

According to the deputy, Robinson said he knew there was no excuse for not reporting the shooting and that he made a mistake not reporting it. Robinson allegedly said he had fired a shot at the rear portion of the Jeep in Boster’s direction with the intent to hit Boster, and that it was not a warning shot. Robinson turned over his Taurus Protector Poly .357 magnum revolver, was arrested and brought to the Pine County Jail.

Robinson was charged with four felonies: one count of drive-by shooting, one charge of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon, one charge of intentional discharge of a firearm that endangers safety, and one count of reckless discharge of a firearm within a municipality. 

Robinson’s criminal record shows he has no felony convictions. He was convicted of speeding in 2014 and 2011. In 2004, Robinson pled guilty to misdemeanor charges of DWI and collision with an unattended vehicle. 

 

‘Glad nobody was hurt’

Sue Pogones, co-owner of the Rock Creek Pit Stop, said she and her employees did all they could to assist deputies in the investigation, and she was thankful the alleged shooter was found. She said her employees were very frightened at the time, but things at the Rock Creek Pit Stop are now back to normal.

“I’m just glad nobody was hurt,” Pogones said. 

 

Boster arrested after chase

On Aug. 31, officers from the Pine County Sheriff’s Office searched for Boster in connection to the shooting incident and received information that he was in the Grasston area. According the report, the officers knew that Boster had an active Department of Corrections felony warrant and may try to avoid being arrested. 

Two deputies saw the Jeep from the shooting incident traveling on Highway 107 with a male driver and female passenger. As they passed it, one officer was able to identify Boster as the driver. When the deputies turned around to get behind it, the Jeep passed a truck and sped up and away from officers. 

The Jeep made an abrupt right turn onto Paddle Road and then a hard left north on Auburn Road. Officers turned on their emergency lights but the Jeep continued at a high rate of speed without stopping. When the officers reached Hawk Ridge Road, they saw a lot of dust on the road, but not on Auburn, and were no longer able to see the Jeep. They attempted to locate him in the area but were not successful. 

On Sept. 1, Boster was located in Carlton County and arrested. According to the criminal complaint, he told officers he was scared and did not want to go back to jail. He did not deny fleeing the officers. He said he got rid of the Jeep afterwards because he knew deputies were searching for it. 

Officers also talked to the passenger, who admitted being with Boster when he fled. She told the officers that he knew he was being chased and “was freaking out and driving like mad.” 

Boster has previous convictions for theft, burglary, receiving stolen property, giving a peace officer a false name and drug possession. 

Boster was charged with felony fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle. The maximum fine for this charge is three years and one day, a $5,000 fine.