An Oak Bluffs man was arrested on Dec. 4 by Massachusetts State Police, following a police chase over snowy roads through Chilmark, West Tisbury, Edgartown, and Oak Bluffs.
Elliot Bilzerian, 28, of Oak Bluffs was charged with speeding, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, marked lanes violations, and failure to stop for police. Bilzerian pleaded not guilty at an arraignment in Edgartown District Court on Dec. 5. On Dec. 4, Chilmark Police responded to a report of possible deerjacking from a motor vehicle in the vicinity of Old Farm Road, according to a police report.
Deerjacking, according to Massachusetts Environmental Police Captain Kevin Clayton, is essentially “a violation of fair chase.” Hunting at night and hunting by means of artificial light are examples.
Chilmark Police Officer John McCarron attempted to stop a teal green pickup truck he encountered in the area, but couldn’t get the motorist to comply. The pickup was later identified as Bilzerian’s, and a witness allegedly identified Bilzerian in the pickup, a report states. The pickup fled along North Road toward West Tisbury. A chase ensued, with Chilmark Sgt. Sean Slavin joining in another cruiser. The pickup was allegedly observed traveling at 50 mph to 60 mph.
“Chilmark officers terminated the pursuit due to icy roadway conditions, in addition to the safety of the public, due to the vehicle’s reckless operation,” a report states. West Tisbury Police were notified. Sgt Garrison Vieira was positioned on North Road, and observed the pickup pass “in a reckless manner,” a report states. Sgt. Vieira refrained from pursuing the pickup because of the road conditions. En route to assist, Trooper Robert Branca saw the pickup pass him on Edgartown–West Tisbury Road, whereupon he turned and pursued the vehicle. The pickup turned onto Barnes Road and accelerated, a report states, reaching 60 mph and passing “multiple vehicles,” and forcing oncoming traffic to pull to the side of the road.
“The roadway at this time was covered in ice and snow, due to recent snowfall,” a report states. The pickup went through the roundabout at Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road and continued along Barnes Road, according to the report. Branca lost sight of it near Pond View Drive, which, the report indicates, Branca was aware offered a back way to Bilzerian’s residence. After an alert was issued for the pickup truck, Oak Bluffs Police Sgt. Steven Conley discovered it on Pond View Drive, unoccupied, with the keys in the ignition.
“Outside the vehicle was an empty [Connecticut Valley Arms (CVA) brand] rifle case with 209 Shotshell Primers, triple 7 preformed pellets, and a plastic container of two Power Belt Bullets 245 GR and a blue container with hunting apparel inside,” a report states. “It was believed that Bilzerian fled on foot into a neighborhood, armed with possibly a [black powder] rifle.”
Edgartown and Oak Bluffs Police, and Massachusetts State Police, searched the woods and yards in snowy conditions, but could not locate Bilzerian. A visit to the Bilzerian residence was not fruitful either.
The next day, West Tisbury Police took custody of a CVA-brand .50 caliber black powder rifle mounted with a CVA scope. The rifle was turned in by a Land Bank employee after being found on the shoulder of North Road in Chilmark, a report states. A pamphlet for the same CVA scope was found in the gun case outside Bilzerian’s truck, a report indicates.
“[T]here was damage to the rifle consistent with being thrown from a vehicle [and] skidding across the pavement,” the report states. State Police took custody of the rifle.
State Police sought an arrest warrant for Bilzerian on Dec. 4. Edgartown District Court Clerk-Magistrate Liza Williamson granted the warrant request on the grounds of public safety.
“Due to the potential of serious risk to public safety, the continuous and reckless flight of the defendant in order to avoid capture by the police, and the inability of the police to arrest post-incident as the charges are misdemeanors, the request for a warrant is hereby allowed,” Williamson wrote in a court document. Joined by Oak Bluffs Police, Troopers Branca and Dustin Shaw found Bilzerian at his Oak Bluffs residence, and arrested him.
He was later released on $100 bail, and is slated for a pretrial hearing on Dec. 20, court records indicate. No hunting violations or weapons charges have been filed in court against Bilzerian as of Dec. 11. However, he has been ordered to turn over all firearms in his possession to Oak Bluffs Police, court records show.
Bilzerian’s attorney, Martin Tomassian, declined to comment on the case.