SENECA, Mo. — Three suspects are facing assault charges in connection with a vehicle pursuit Saturday night during which shots fired from the fleeing vehicle struck a Seneca police officer's patrol car.
According to probable-cause affidavits filed with charges on the three alleged occupants of the vehicle, the incident began when the police officer attempted to stop a Ford Ranger pickup truck pulling out of Big Daddy's convenience store in Seneca for having license plates that did not match the vehicle.
A pursuit ensued down Missouri Highway 43 with shots fired out the back of the truck through a sliding rear window. The affidavits state that bullet holes were located near both headlights of the officer's car, in the patrol vehicle's front license plate and in the center of the windshield. The shot that struck the windshield did not penetrate the glass.
No one was injured in the shooting. The officer had a rider in his patrol car whom he stopped briefly to let out when he realized he was drawing fire from the fleeing vehicle, according to the affidavits.
The fleeing vehicle turned onto Rya Lane south of Seneca, left the roadway and crashed through a fence into a field, at which time the officer was forced to terminate direct pursuit. The truck was found abandoned a short time later where it had crashed into a tree about a third of a mile from where it left the road.
Newton County deputies and the Seneca officer recovered a .22-caliber rifle and a sandal on the ground by the truck as well as a 12-gauge shotgun and .45-caliber handgun on its front passenger seat's floorboard.
Officers established a perimeter in the area and viewed video from the convenience store that helped develop suspect descriptions leading to the eventual location and arrest of all three suspected occupants of the truck.
Charges of first-degree assault of a special victim, armed criminal action and aiding or abetting the discharging of a firearm from a motor vehicle were filed on Bradley R. Holmes Jr., 24, of Miami, Oklahoma; Kenneth C. Nelums, 59, of Picher, Oklahoma; and Tony L. Helms, 53, of Baxter Springs, Kansas.
The affidavits state that the store surveillance video showed the youngest of the three suspects climbing into the back seat of the Ford Ranger truck outside the store before the pursuit.
When officers located Holmes in stockings and no shoes in the vicinity of the crash, he was claiming to have broken his back and was taken by ambulance to a hospital for treatment of injuries. Under questioning by officers before transport, according to the affidavits, Holmes refused to identify the other two occupants, asking why he should because he expected to be the one "getting all the charges anyway."