More is now known about a June 22 incident after the release of an offense and arrest report late last week about the attempted arson of a home and a resulting high-speed chase in a stolen car that resulted in one arrest.
Arrested was Justin Hill Barnes, 32, 490 Ashburn Dr. in the Westel area. Barnes is charged with aggravated arson, possession of an explosive device, three counts of reckless endangerment, auto theft, evading arrest and reckless driving.
Around 10 p.m. on June 22, Cumberland County sheriff’s deputies were alerted to the theft of a 2018 Chevrolet Equinox from a Westel area resident who identified his son as a suspect.
The owner of the call said the son was experiencing “some issues in his life” and may have been using a controlled substance prior to the incident. The caller added that the son was traveling to his old boss’ home in Linary “for no good reason.”
Deputies were next informed that the suspect was at a Houston Rd. residence in Linary and had attempted to set an occupied house on fire, according to Deputy Cpl. Mitchell Ward’s report.
Ward wrote he was traveling south on Hwy. 127 S. in the area of Bear Trace Golf Course when the suspect’s vehicle passed him traveling north. The deputy turned around on the vehicle and attempted a traffic stop.
The driver of the Equinox ignored the lights and siren and turned onto Hwy. 68, attempting to elude officers while reaching speeds up to 100 mph. The report states Deputy SRO Roy Kemmer attempted to deploy a device designed to disable the fleeing vehicle’s tires without success.
The pursuit continued into Rhea County and authorities were successful in disabling the vehicle’s tires as the fleeing motorist entered Spring City. A tire finally fell off the vehicle as it approached Hwy. 27 and the chase ended.
Ward’s report states two beer bottles filled with gasoline in what was called homemade molotov cocktails were found inside the vehicle. Cloths used for fuses were torn from an old work shirt.
Deputy Dakota Rucker traveled to the residence in Linary where witness statements and evidence was recovered.
Barnes was eventually returned to Cumberland County and processed at the Justice Center where he is being held under $177,000 bond.