BELL COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT
OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE
Tuesday, November 6, 2018
(Arjay, Ky.) Wednesday October 31, 2018 at approximately 3:21am Bell County Dispatcher Adam Evans received a call from a man identifying himself as Johnny Ray Gambrel. Gambrel stated that he was on a road off of Highway 66. Gambrel also stated that a man only identified as “James” was a Meth dealer and he was hiding in the woods.
Gambrel called back to dispatch at 3:35am stating that he was on another road and that he had a firearm and was “surrounding the building.”
Unable to make sense of the calls, K-9 Deputy James Taulbee and Deputy Justin Patterson responded to the complaint under extreme caution.
While on route to the scene on Highway 66, Deputy Taulbee was coming around a small curve and encountered a man, later identified as Gambrel, walking in the middle of the roadway with what the deputy immediately identified as a weapon. Gambrel was waving it around above his head.
Both deputies stopped in the roadway, spotlighted the man, and ordered him to drop the weapon which he did. Once the firearm was secure, the deputies began to question Gambrel about what was happening.
Gambrel told the deputies that he was at a house and had the place surrounded to take the unknown man named James to jail. He also stated there was a female at the residence that he just left in a building. It became very apparent that Gambrel was manifestly under the influence so he was detained and placed in Deputy Patterson’s cruiser.
Further investigating had the deputies traveling down a small gravel road on Private 9 locating an older double-wide as well as a small shack beside the home. While the deputies were out of their vehicles they announced their presence and a female voice responded from inside the shack. Deputy Taulbee states that the woman was very scared and would not open the door until she was assured it was actual officers present.
After being calmed, the woman stated that she was house sitting for a friend when she saw a flashlight coming down the hill towards the house. She said that once the light got closer she asked who it was and the light was shined in her face. A male voice then screamed at her ordering her to the ground and that they were the Kentucky State Police. After she complied she realized it was not a police officer. She stated she was kept on the ground for some time.
The woman then stated that at some point she was able to get back inside the building and lock the door but that the man threatened to kill her if she didn’t open it up. She states the man finally walked off, but that she heard loud gunshots and smaller gunshots.
The deputies canvassed the area and while searching, Deputy Taulbee located in the middle of railroad tracks nearby what was determined to be a semi automatic rifle. Deputy Patterson recovered a black magazine as well as a few discharged shell casings matching the same type of caliber the rifle used.
Deputy Taulbee made sure the woman did not need medical attention. He later obtained a criminal history report on Gambrel who had prior felony charges out of Virginia.
Johnny Ray Gambrel was arrested and lodged in the Bell County Detention Center charged with:
Unlawful imprisonment – 1st degree,
Impersonating a peace officer,
2 counts of Wanton endangerment – 1st degree police officer
Possession of a handgun by a convicted felon
Falsely reporting an incident