Two Deputies Shot in Coffee County

Michael Eugene Bell jail intake photo

Two deputies with the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office have been injured in a shooting at the county justice center.
The incident occurred Monday afternoon at the Coffee County Justice Center in Manchester.
District Attorney General Craig Northcott said an inmate identified as 37-year-old Michael Eugene Bell was in the courthouse for a scheduled hearing on charges of domestic-related kidnapping, evading arrest and other charges.

Emergency personnel prepare Deputy Bassett to be airlifted to Vanderbilt Medical Center for treatment… Photo by Barry West

After court, Deputy Wade Bassett was escorting Bell to be transported back to the Coffee County Jail. Northcott said Bell then attacked the deputy, and a scuffle ensued.
Bell was able to wrestle away Bassett’s firearm and shot him once in the stomach area. Officials said Deputy Bassett was protected because he was wearing a bulletproof vest. Bassett did receive an injury to his right hand during the struggle.
The suspect then went to the first floor of the three story building, and as D.A. Northcott said, “as he was exiting the building, in a very unnecessary and cowardly way, he shot Deputy Wendell Bowen on his way out.”

Heavy law enforcement at the Justice Center… Photo by Barry West

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 and died from his injuries.
Deputy Bassett was transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for treatment and Bowen underwent surgery at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.
The extent of the deputies’ injuries are not available at this time.
There will be no court on Tuesday, June 20. The Justice Center will be closed all day to employees, court personnel and the public due to a request by law enforcement, as they continue their investigation.