Man accused of trying to carjack people

PLYMOUTH TOWNSHIP — A man was accused of trying to carjack at least three people and stealing a purse after a Thursday car accident on Interstate 90.

Jacob Ruefthaler, 34, of Erie, Pa., was arrested and faces charges of operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, aggravated disorderly conduct and robbery, court records state. Ruefthaler is due in traffic court today for arraignment on the OVI charge and next week for arraignment on the other charges.

Sheriff’s deputies were called to assist the Ohio State Highway Patrol on Interstate 90 at the scene of a crash after dispatchers were inundated with calls about a transgender man with a gun who was stealing things and trying to carjack people, a police report states.

Deputies reported seeing a number of people pointing at the Brown Road overpass on I-90. They reported seeing a man, later identified as Ruefthaler, step in front of a car stopped on the road and walk over to the driver’s door before the car quickly drove off.

Ruefthaler walked south down Brown Road as deputies sprinted up the embankment. Ruefthaler was ordered to turn and show his hands at gunpoint because calls stated he had a gun, and he had something in his hand which turned out to be a cell phone.

Ruefthaler appeared to be under the influence, the report states, and at one point made reference to people thinking he was on methamphetamine.

Ruefthaler claimed to have been dropped off on the bridge by a friend although his car was disabled in a crash on Interstate 90, the report states. 

Witnesses pulled off to the side of I-90 after seeing Ruefthaler driving erratically and at a high rate of speed before getting into an accident. They described how Ruefthaler, wearing women’s clothing, came running between the cars claiming someone was after him.

Ruefthaler is accused of trying to open the door of one of the witnesses on I-90 several times and then jumping on the hood of a car while reaching into a purse he was carrying and claiming to have a gun.

Ruefthaler then tried to get into another car and reached into an open window and took a purse before running off, the report states.