2 Deputies Injured In Shooting At Coffee Co. Courthouse

Suspect identified as 37-year-old Michael Bell
Posted at 3:43 PM, Jun 19, 2017

Two deputies with the Coffee County Sheriff's Office have been injured in a shooting at the county courthouse. 

The incident happened Monday afternoon at the Coffee County Justice Center at 300 Hillsboro Boulevard in Manchester. 

District Attorney General Craig Northcott said an inmate identified as 37-year-old Michael Bell was in the courthouse for a scheduled hearing on charges of domestic-related kidnapping and evading arrest. 

After the hearing, Deputy Wade Bassett went to a third floor area where Bell was being held for transport back to the jail. Northcott said Bell then attacked the deputy and a scuffle ensued. 

Bell was able to take Bassett's firearm and shot him once in the abdomen. Officials said Deputy Bassett was wearing a bulletproof vest. 

The suspect then went to the first floor to exit the building.

"As he was exiting the building, in a very unnecessary and cowardly way, he shot another deputy on his way out," said Northcutt. 

The second man was identified as Deputy Wendell Bowen.

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Sources told NewsChannel 5 the suspect then ran from the scene on foot. A short police chase ensued, ending just two blocks away on Madison Street near the intersection with Rose Street.

TBI Director Mark Gwyn said the suspect entered a home on Madison Street before exiting out the back and going into the yard of an adjacent house. It was there where officials said the suspect shot himself in the head.

There were residents home at the time of the incident, though officials did not say if Bell interacted with them. 

Both deputies and the shooter were taken to the hospital. The deputies were taken to Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga for treatment. Deputy Bowen was undergoing surgery. 

A family member of Bowen told NewsChannel 5 "A bullet is lodged in his spine, they are trying to see what organs are affected."

Deputy Bassett was later transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Both were listed in stable condition. 

Special agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation were called to the scene to assist in the investigation. 

Officials with the TBI confirmed that the suspect died from his injuries.

Due to the ongoing investigation, Northcutt said the courthouse would be closed Tuesday.

Director Gwyn said TBI investigators were processing two crime scenes - one at the courthouse and one at the home at 701 Madison Street. 

Gwyn said there were no other suspects being sought in the case. 

The last time a deputy was involved in a shooting in Coffee County was in 2015. In that case, the deputy was not injured.