The man police say was behind the wheel during a high-speed chase that covered much of the county Thursday afternoon has been hit with 16 charges and is in jail on $1 million bond.
James Matthew Bell, 51, faces charges of attempted criminal homicide, attempted sexual battery, possession of meth, aggravated assault, unlawful possession of a weapon during the commission of a felony, and reckless endangerment, among his many counts.
Bell was reportedly found with five handguns and more than a half ounce of meth at the time of his arrest.
The incident believed to have led to the chase occurred Feb. 23 when a female was walking along Nashville Highway. Bell stopped an offered her a ride and she accepted, despite the fact she said in the arrest warrant she did not know the male driver.
The female victim said she needed a ride to Walmart, but when she got in the car the driver turned around a headed out of town. She said he pulled into a business on Old Nashville Highway and immediately jumped on top of her.
“This person was going to abuse her sexually and as this person was attempting to do this she was able to get the car door open and escape from this attacker,” the arrest warrant says. “This person searched the area for her after she got away and she then flagged down a motorist and had them call 911.”
The driver reportedly returned while the victim was on the phone with 911 and, a short time later, the Highway Patrol got in pursuit of a vehicle matching that description on Nashville Highway and it was determined Bell was the driver and the person who had attacked his female passenger.
Thursday’s chase began as deputy Brystol Davis was attempting to serve the warrant on Bell for sexual battery at a home on Bridge Street. Bell was there but he fled in a 2018 Nissan Altima, a rental car, at high speeds.
“The vehicle accelerated at high speeds and led deputy Davis on a lengthy pursuit through Warren County,” the war-rant reads. “During the pursuit, James M. Bell directed his vehicle at deputy Davis while reaching under the seat where a loaded firearm was later located causing deputy Davis to immediately fear for his life.”
As the chase continued, Bell reportedly directed his car into the path three pursuing officers – Sheriff Tommy Myers, Major Jason Walker and detective Todd Rowland.
“Each officer had to take evasive action to avoid collision and were placed in immediate fear of bodily injury or death,” the warrant says. “During the pursuit, the vehicle driven by James M. Bell disregarded numerous traffic laws and regu-lations and nearly struck numerous members of the motoring public and public on foot.”
Once Bell’s vehicle was disabled by spike strips on Beersheba Street in the Mt. Leo area, Bell was reportedly found to have more than a half ounce of meth in his pocket. A search of the vehicle netted five handguns, including a 9mm with the serial number removed.
The arrest warrant says Bell has been found to be a felon from both Georgia and Florida.