Inmate escapes courthouse, kills 2 deputies with stolen service pistol
By Jennifer Cruz
The Coffee County Courthouse remained closed through Tuesday. (Photo: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)
An incident that started at a Coffee County, Tennessee, courthouse Monday afternoon left two sheriff’s deputies injured and the man who shot them – an escaped inmate – dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident, which unfolded just before 3 p.m.
According to a TBI press release, the suspect, 37-year-old Michael Eugene Bell was in a third-floor holding cell inside the courthouse after having spent the day in court. When Coffee County Deputy Wade Bassett, 71, went to the holding cell to return Bell to the jail, the inmate attacked the deputy, and the two became involved in what was described as “a significant struggle.”
During this time, Bell was able to gain control of the deputy’s gun and subsequently shot Bassett. Bell then ran down the stairs inside the courthouse and as he made his way to the front door, shot Deputy Wendell Bowen, 56, before exiting the courthouse.
About a block from the courthouse, Bell, still armed with the deputy’s gun, went into a home then left again and ran into a nearby yard. When authorities caught