COLCHESTER, Vt. – A Middlebury man is facing aggravated assault and robbery charges after leading several local police departments on a lengthy chase while threatening bystanders with a crossbow.

It started just before 7 pm on Sunday, when police got a call about a man driving recklessly in his Jeep Cherokee on Route 15 in Colchester. Police said Ben Webb, 38, apparently stopped, got out of his vehicle and demanded another driver hand over his debit card.

“Mr. Webb pulled up alongside of him in the roadway and pointed a crossbow at him,” said Lt. James Roy of the Colchester Police Department.

Police say when Webb was unable to get the debit card, he robbed a gas station for cigarettes half a mile down the road. On Monday, regular customers of the gas station were surprised to hear about the night before.

“The only ones you see walking around with a crossbow are typically bow hunting, not standing on a street corner trying to hold up a store,” said Scott Lee of Essex.

Twenty minutes later, reports came in that Webb was now on Route 7, driving erratically and missing a tire on his Jeep. At this point, several witnesses were following his vehicle, attempting to keep an eye on him until police arrived. He lead them down Severance Road, then Forman Drive, where residents of the typically quiet neighborhood were treated to a chaotic scene.

“I was just in my room and I heard yelling,” said MacKaylah O’Brien. “I saw a car at the end of our cul-de-sac, and then I just saw sparks.”

Before police arrived, Webb once again pointed his crossbow at a bystander. Upon their arrival, officers demanded that he drop his crossbow. He did, but the pursuit wasn’t over.

“This car just takes off, goes past the cop, over the curb and smokes a mailbox,” O’Brien said. “The cop just took off and went after him.”

Colchester police followed him back on to Severance Road, then Kellogg Road, before he turned onto Morse Drive. Essex police arrived to assist, at which point Webb drove directly at their cruiser, striking the left side and causing extensive damage. Two Essex Police officers were seen at UVM Medical Center for minor injuries.

Webb was also transported to UVM Medical Center, and faces multiple aggravated assault charges and two charges of robbery. Police say further charges are likely as the investigation continues.

Lt. Roy said in situations like this, anything can happen.

“Those are the biggest challenges, trying to make split-second decisions with very little information, it’s basically what you’re faced with right at hand.”

Anyone with information on this case is asked to call Colchester Police at 264-5555.