2 deputies injured in Coffee County courthouse shooting; suspect dies

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Michael Bell

MANCHESTER, Tenn. — Two deputies were injured Monday in a shooting at a Tennessee county courthouse, and authorities said the shooter died.

Coffee County District Attorney General Craig Northcott said at a news conference Monday evening that the shooter was an inmate, Michael Bell, who fled about two blocks away and fatally shot himself.

Northcott identified the Coffee County deputies as Wade Bassett and Wendell Bowen. He said both were in stable condition.

Bassett went to a holding cell after Bell appeared in court on kidnapping, evading arrest and other charges, the prosecutor said. Bell attacked Bassett and took his firearm after a struggle, Northcott said. Bell shot the deputy and fled, shooting Bowen on his way out of the building, Northcott said.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn said after the inmate fled, he entered an occupied home, exited and went behind another house and shot himself.

TBI spokeswoman Susan Niland said Bassett was wearing a vest but suffered a significant hand injury. He was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Bowen was taken to Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga and was undergoing surgery, Niland said.

The county courthouse is located in Manchester, about 65 miles (105 kilometers) southeast of Nashville.

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