The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.
Jamie Steele, pastor of East Taylorsville Baptist Church in Taylorsville, North Carolina, was charged with driving while impaired, reckless driving with wanton disregard, discharging a firearm in city limits, open container of alcohol, damage to property, carrying a concealed weapon, going armed to the terror of the public, driving left of center, exceeding safe speed and unsafe passing.
James “Jamie” Oliver Steele, 53, of Taylorsville, is charged with driving while impaired, reckless driving with wanton disregard, discharging a firearm in city limits, open container of alcohol, damage to property, carrying a concealed weapon, going armed to the terror of the public, driving left of center, exceeding safe speed and unsafe passing, Taylorsville police said in a news release.
The crash occurred along West Main Avenue in Taylorsville on Jan. 24. Steele was charged on Friday.
A white Toyota Tacoma truck was traveling west along West Main Avenue shortly before 1 p.m. on Jan. 24, police said. The vehicle veered to the left and struck four utility poles near the intersection of West Main Avenue and Seventh Street SW. The crash broke at least two of the utilities poles and left powerlines strewn across the road, causing the road to be shut down, Taylorsville police said.
While emergency responders were present, the driver of the Tacoma pulled out a semiautomatic pistol, Taylorsville police said. Steele was identified by Taylorsville police as the driver.
“While I was looking at the power lines down, I noticed several first responders and the witnesses running away from the vehicle involved in the accident,” Taylorsville police Lt. Kevin Elder said in the release. “I could hear (Alexander County Sheriff’s Deputy) Caudle yelling on the radio; however, I could not make out what he was saying. I spoke with Adrian Foster who came up to me and he stated that the driver had just pulled out a gun and began to point it at the people around and put the gun to his head.”
Taylorsville police said Steele was threatening to harm himself. Following the crash, the vehicle was surrounded by Taylorsville police officers and the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office deputies, according to the release.
One shot was fired from inside the wrecked vehicle. No one was injured, Taylorsville police said. It was nearly one hour before Steele surrendered to police, Taylorsville police said.
West Main Avenue was closed for more than six hours as the utility poles and lines were repaired.
Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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