2 Tenn. deputies wounded, suspect dead in courthouse shooting

The officers are in stable condition


By Rosana Hughes
Chattanooga Times/Free Press

COFFEE COUNTY, Tenn. — An inmate shot and injured two Coffee County deputies at a Coffee County courthouse Monday afternoon before shooting himself, reported the Tennessean.

The officers were in stable condition at the time of the press conference. One was transported to Erlanger and the other to Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Michael Eugene Bell, 37, was in court facing charges for kidnapping, domestic assault and evading arrest before he attacked Deputy Wade Bassett, grabbed his firearm, shot him once and fled, District Attorney Craig Northcott was quoted as saying at a press conference.

As Bell exited the courthouse, he shot deputy Wendell Bowen, in what Northcott described as a "very unnecessary and cowardly way."

Bell shot himself in the head about two blocks away from the courthouse as officers were in pursuit, Northcott said.

Court records obtained by the Times Free Press show Bell was convicted of methamphetamine-related charges in November 2003, in an Iowa U.S. District Court. He was ordered to be transferred to the Eastern District of Tennessee on March 22 on supervised release probation. It was not clear whether Bell was still on supervised release when he was charged with kidnapping, domestic assault and evading arrest in Tennessee earlier this month.

Lucky Knott, public information officer for the Coffee County Sheriff's Department, said he was not aware of Bell being on supervised release at the time the charges were brought against him.

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©2017 the Chattanooga Times/Free Press (Chattanooga, Tenn.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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