A Texas man was arrested after engaging in two gunfights with deputies and ramming three of their vehicles in a dramatic car chase—all because he didn’t want the fire burning down his house to be put out.
Firefighters with the DeKalb Volunteer Fire Department (DVFD) were met with 48-year-old Bryan Lee Batchelor pointing a gun at them when they rolled up to a structure fire in Bowie County, Texas. Batchelor, the owner of the property, did not want the fire extinguished.
When Bowie County deputy Eric McMillian arrived, Batchelor fled into a field in his pickup truck. McMillan was joined by Deputy Westin Fannin, a volunteer firefighter, and they chased Batchelor into the field.
But when their vehicle got stuck, Batchelor came back, rammed them with his truck, and opened fire. Both deputies were hit, but managed to fire back, sending Batchelor fleeing again.
“Both Deputies suffered gunshot wounds from this exchange but were not critically injured,” the Bowie County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) said in a statement.
As Batchelor fled down County Road 4241, he was spotted by Deputy Clint Freeman. Freeman could see Batchelor meant to ram him as well and attempted to dodge the collision. He was not successful. Batchelor smashed into Freeman’s vehicle hard enough to leave it inoperable and then continued his escape.
Deputies then lost sight of Batchelor until he turned on his exterior lights and was spotted by Lieutenant Chris Allison and Deputy Martin McGee on County Road 4235.
Batchelor then again smashed into the police vehicle but this time when deputies and Batchelor exchanged gun fire, deputies managed to wound him badly enough to then take him into custody.
While waiting for medical responders, deputies treated him for his injuries and accompanied him to the hospital where he remains in police custody.
While several deputies suffered injuries, none of them were life threatening. All of them have been treated and released from the hospital.
“This is truly a bad situation, that only by the grace of God nobody was killed!”, wrote Bowie County Sheriff James Prince wrote on his Facebook page.
“I am really proud of my deputies for being brave and courageous in their actions to arrest this person, in order to stop him from doing anything further,” wrote Prince.
Chief Deputy Jeff Neal echoed that sentiment when speaking to reporters about the incident later that day.
“Law enforcement is like a family and when something like this happens, it really shows, because everybody comes out. I’m very grateful and thankful that last night God was watching out for our officers,” he said.
As per the sheriff’s office policy, the officer-involved shooting will now be investigated by an outside agency—in this case, the Texas Rangers.
Rangers will have to process the multiple locations of the crime scene.
Prince thanked the Rangers for that effort and acknowledged the people behind the scene that bear much of the burden when officers encounter a suspect like Batchelor.
“I also want to thank the families of all my deputies, who worry about their loved ones out here working to protect the citizens of our county and doing so on the low salaries that Bowie County deputies make!”
“I also want to ask for prayer to the family of the man who caused all this havoc! May he find peace in what is troubling him! I know his family loves him!”
Batchelor was charged with three counts of aggravated assault on a public servant and evading arrest with a vehicle.
The house was lost to the fire.