WHITE RIVER JUNCTION - A Norwich teen who police say confessed to stealing several guns before he ended up in a high-speed chase with United States Border Patrol agents after he and his girlfriend sped away from the Canadian side of the Beecher Falls crossing is now facing a felony charge.
Tyler Bowen, 19, pleaded innocent this week to grand larceny in connection with the theft of a pair of shotguns from a pickup truck that had been parked in Wilder. Police in Lebanon, New Hampshire are also investigating the theft of a high-powered handgun that was stolen from a car in their town and later discovered in Bowen’s bedroom.
Following his arraignment on Tuesday, Bowen was released from the courthouse on pre-trial conditions that include a nighttime curfew at his residence and a requirement that he meet with a licensed drug and alcohol counselor while his case is pending.
Police in Norwich said that Bowen first came to their attention after his mother looked out her window late one night in October when Bowen returned home from work and she noticed he was carrying firearms.
Checking Bowen’s bedroom the next day, his mother and step-father found two stolen shotguns valued at nearly $2,700 and a .45 caliber handgun that had already been entered into a national stolen gun database, police said.
According to an affidavit filed with the court, Bowen became upset when he returned home later in the day and discovered that the guns had already been turned over at the police department, insisting that he had purchased them “for protection.” Bowen then announced that he was moving out and planning to live in his car, according to the police report.
Norwich Police Sgt. Jennifer Frank wrote that repeated attempts to reach Bowen via phone and Facebook in an effort to get him to come in and meet with police about the guns were unsuccessful so police requested an arrest warrant for Bowen on October 18th.
Late on the afternoon of October 19th, Bowen and his girlfriend, Ashley Rowley, drove into the Northern Port of Entry at Beecher Falls, in the northeastern-most corner of Vermont, and handed over their ID’s to a Canadian customs officer who “redirected them from Primary to Secondary screening as a result of multiple factors including: unusual items observed in the vehicle, a large number of electronics in the vehicle, a lack of passports and their inability to answer questions around where they were going, coming from or what their intentions were in the country,” according to Canadian officials.
Leaving their identification behind, the pair sped off and “came flying back through” the American side of the crossing, passing vehicles at an estimated 100 mph at one point, while Border Patrol and Vermont State Police troopers began searching roads throughout the area and at times briefly giving chase, according to the police reports.
The next afternoon a passerby spotted the black Focus over an embankment beside Route 102 in Guildhall, Vermont with numerous items, including kitchen knives, suitcases and clothes, scattered outside it. State police seized the vehicle and reported that one of the rear tires had been running on the rim and there was heat damage to the fenders and bumper.
The following week, after police learned that Bowen and Rowley were hiding at her aunt’s house in Woodsville, New Hampshire, Bowen voluntarily returned to Norwich and sat down for an interview at the police department, Norwich Police Sgt. Jennifer Frank wrote in her report.
Sgt. Frank wrote that Bowen gave an unconvincing account of how he had supposedly purchased the guns from a friend but then eventually confessed to having stolen them out of unlocked vehicles.
Bowen explained the incident at the border to Sgt. Frank by saying that the pair were “just driving” because “the cops and the world were looking for us.” Bowen said they bumbled into the crossing before realizing where they were and then tried to turn around and re-enter the United States.
Sgt. Frank wrote that Bowen said he was upset by the attitude of the Canadian officer whom he said started “making fun of everything I said and mocking me” because Bowen could not remember the name of the hospital where he was born.
“I’m a man of principles,” Bowen told the sergeant, “You want to arrest me because I did something, okay, but you’re not gonna arrest me because I tried to turn my car around. I don’t think so.”
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