Man accused of shooting deputies pleads not guilty

Submitted photo by Roseanna McAlexander

A 48-year-old DeKalb, Texas, accused of setting his house on fire before shooting Bowie County Sheriff’s Office deputies entered pleas of not guilty to several counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer and to evading arrest.

Bryan Lee Batchelor appeared for arraignment Friday with Bowie County Public Defender Shoaib Daredia before 202nd District Judge John Tidwell. Batchelor was recently deemed competent to stand trial following a mental evaluation Daredia requested in October. Following that finding, the case was referred to a Bowie County grand jury which indicted Batchelor for three counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer and felony evading arrest in a vehicle.

Bowie County deputies were called to a 4640 Farm to Market Road 44 East shortly after midnight Sept. 17, according to a probable cause affidavit. Batchelor was allegedly threatening members of the DeKalb Volunteer Fire Dept. with a “long gun” when they responded to a call regarding a burning house. The person who reported the fire told 911 operators that Batchelor had talked recently of burning the house down and of an alleged desire to harm law enforcement.

When deputies arrived, Batchelor allegedly drove his truck into a nearby pasture. Batchelor allegedly wounded two deputies with gunfire and a third by ramming his pickup into his patrol car, disabling it. In all, Batchelor is credited with rendering three patrol cars inoperable and sending three deputies to local hospitals. None of the deputy’s injuries were life threatening. Batchelor was shot by deputies and treated for non-life threatening injuries for several days at a Texarkana hospital. He is now being held in the Bowie County jail. According to court records, Batchelor’s wife filed for divorce about a month before the house fire brought firefighters and law enforcement to his property.

Batchelor’s bail is currently set at more than $3 million. Tidwell scheduled Batchelor to return to court next month for a pretrial hearing. Jury selection in the case is scheduled for July 31 at the Bowie County courthouse in New Boston, Texas.

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