The man who allegedly fired on a Kentucky Utilities helicopter and deputies in Harrison County, has been charged with more crimes, including additional counts of attempted murder and wanton endangerment, according to court records.
Initially, Thomas Field VanMeter III was charged with four counts of attempted murder. Police charged VanMeter after he allegedly fired on the helicopter checking electrical lines about 2 p.m. Sept. 11 and forced it to land. No one in the helicopter was harmed and a contracted pilot and a KU employee were rescued by police. The shooting prompted Harrison County Schools to delay dismissal.
A grand jury expanded the charges to eight counts of attempted murder, eight counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, one count of first-degree criminal mischief, one count of third-degree criminal mischief, buying/possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana.
VanMeter’s brother, Griffin VanMeter, asked police to conduct a welfare check on his brother because he was “out of it,” on the same day of the helicopter attack, according to an affidavit for a search warrant.
Harrison County Sheriff’s Deputy Lance Hutchinson went to 1667 Ky. 1842 west in Cynthiana, where VanMeter was, and approached a log cabin on the property, according to court documents.
Hutchinson heard what he believed to be bullets being fired in his direction from the log cabin. Hutchinson returned fire, according to an affidavit, while moving away from the cabin. When Hutchinson returned to the highway, he met with other police officers and heard gunfire directed toward him again.
On that same day, Tim Vinal, a Kentucky State Police detective, spoke to a VanMeter associate, Myron Hatfield, who said he had seen VanMeter about 8:30 a.m. and VanMeter had what appeared to be a semi-automatic black handgun, according to the Vinal’s affidavit seeking a search warrant.
VanMeter allegedly told Hatfield that “they’re coming after me and I’ve got something for them,” court documents said. VanMeter allegedly said he had things that were being stolen and was “tired of the pill heads.” VanMeter then tore up $100 bills in front of Hatfield and said he “needed protection.”
Dan Carmen, who grew up with VanMeter, told Commonwealth’s Attorney Douglas Miller that VanMeter had a mental health issue, according to the affidavit.
Following VanMeter’s arrest, numerous police agencies, including the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office and state police, searched 1667 Ky. 1842. The propertyis owned by Annefield Farm LLC, which was managed at one time by George Minister VanMeter III, and will be owned by Fieldstone Farms LLC, which has ties to Thomas Field VanMeter III, in 2018, according to Harrison County property records and Secretary of State business records.
Tom VanMeter, VanMeter’s father, declined to comment.
“I really can’t talk about it,” the elder VanMeter said following his son’s arrest last week. “We’re just grateful that he has been safely taken in to custody and that no one was hurt.”
VanMeter was taken to the Bourbon County jail. He’s being held on a $3 million cash bond, according to court records.