BRYANT, Ark. (KTHV) - An officer-involved shooting in Benton landed three suspects in jail ,and a deputy is off-the-job for now after authorities said he shot at them.
The Saline County Sheriff's Office said that deputy fired at the suspects after they rammed their Lincoln Navigator into his squad car. It was all part of a sequence of events that began with an attempted robbery at a Bryant business.
Located right of Interstate 30 in Bryant sits Fence Brokers. It's a business that became the first stop, leading to an officer-involved shooting early Wednesday morning.
"This is where we keep our paperwork, and he was here getting it together, and he heard something. He stepped out, and he saw someone trying to pry the door open," Owner Chris Walker said.
Walker said that one of his truck-drivers walked down to the door and faced three men trying to rob the place. Authorities said the suspects are 30-year-old Melvin Bell, 31-year-old Ezell Brown and Quinton Brown. They are all from Texas.
"They saw the truck driver and they immediately took off," Walker said.
Heading west on I-30, Saline County authorities said a deputy tracked the suspects down near Alcoa Road overpass, but the driver of the suspects' SUV continued to Odessa Road in Benton where the driver rammed into the deputy's squad car.
"The deputy at that time felt his life was in danger and that's why shots were fired," Lt. Scott Courtney said.
Lt. Courtney added that the suspects were not hit by any bullets, and they never fired back.
Lt. Courtney said two of the suspects fled on foot after the crash while the driver kept going but later stopped and ran away, too. Hot Springs County authorities eventually found all three suspects Wednesday afternoon along Interstate 30. Lt. Courtney said the arrests came apparently after a tip of a vehicle carrying the suspects who had hitched a ride.
Back at Fence Brokers, Walker's relieved about the arrests.
"Most of the time something happens like this, and it's hard to catch them, so we were glad. It felt good that we did get them," Walker said.
Authorities said that the driver of the car who rammed the deputy's squad, Melvin Bell, is now facing an attempted capital murder charge along with commercial burglary. The two other suspects were charged with commercial burglary and fleeing.
The deputy who fired the shots is on routine administrative leave pending an investigation into his actions.