GATE CITY — A Kingsport man who allegedly led state and local police on a miles-long pursuit through Scott County that topped speeds of 100 mph is facing additional charges following an appearance in court this week.
Jason Byrns, 33, of Kingsport was arraigned in Scott County General District Court Tuesday on charges of attempted capital murder of a law enforcement officer, felony evading arrest, possession of Schedule III drugs with intent to distribute, possession of Schedule IV drugs with intent to distribute and possession of marijuana.
Byrns had a preliminary hearing date set for May 30 in district court. He will be represented by Bristol, Va. attorney Janet Metz. According to the Scott County Commonwealth's Attorney Marcus McClung said Byrns could face a "couple dozen" more charges for his alleged role in the chase, which left one Virginia State Police trooper recovering from injuries he sustained in it.
“This is an investigation with multiple agencies, and multiple people within them, involved,” McClung said. “So that can take a period of time. He also hit multiple officers, and we have to look at what extent he hit those officers, and based on his intent, bring different charges.
“Then there are different items — cars, mailboxes, guard rails, — that each have different victims, so we're contacting them. Besides society, there are probably eight to 10 victims.”
The additional charges are being investigated by a special agent with the VSP and could be brought within the coming days. Those additional counts will likely be combined with his current charges in district court. The officer injured in the pursuit, Trooper James C. Lawson, has been receiving treatment for his injuries at Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport following the April 9 incident.
Lawson was reportedly transferred to a facility in Georgia Thursday for further rehabilitative treatment.
Authorities said Byrns ran from VSP troopers on East Carters Valley Road before leading local and state officers on a miles-long chase that ended on Daniel Boone Road north of Gate City.
Byrns allegedly drove through downtown Gate City at speeds between 55 and 70 mph before topping 100 mph just west of town. State police said he hit several VSP and Scott County Sheriff's Office cruisers before intentionally wrecking Lawson's vehicle. Byrns allegedly rammed Lawson's cruiser at one point in the chase, causing it to strike a parked truck head-on.
Witnesses said the impact from the crash moved the truck back 10 feet from where it was parked. Authorities said the chase ended when Byrns lost control of his vehicle and wrecked in a creek.
Authorities said prescription drugs, marijuana and an undisclosed amount of cash were found during a subsequent search of Byrns' car. Byrns also allegedly told authorities he did not have a valid driver's license when he fled officers.