OREGON COUNTY - A West Plains man is in the Oregon County Jail after leading officers on a chase and damaging a patrol car.
According to Alton Police Chief Mike Barton, Junior Lee Caughorn was arrested March 1 at 11:25 p.m. and charged with class A felony of assault on a law enforcement officer in the first degree; a class D felony of property damage; a class D felony of leaving the scene of an accident; DWI; failure to yield to an emergency vehicle and numerous other traffic violations. He is currently in the Oregon County Jail with bond set at $55,000.
Barton said the incident began around 11 p.m. when Missouri Highway Patrolman Michael Hargus attempted to stop Caughorn who was driving an older model Jeep Cherokee in Thomasville. Hargus reported the suspect failed to stop and proceeded east on Highway 160 toward Alton. Barton said it was at this time he requested the assistance of the Oregon County Sheriff's Department and the Alton City Police.
When Caughorn entered the Alton city limits, after crossing several county roads, Barton took the lead in the pursuit with the Jeep heading north on Highway 19 out of Alton. Barton reported that Caughorn ended up on County Road 416 turning into a Howell-Oregon Electric line right-of-way road.
"After approximately one-eighth of a mile he came to a fence and stopped. He began to exit the car when Trooper Hargus and I approached him, he reentered the Jeep, put it in reverse and began backing toward me. I moved out of the way behind my patrol car. He struck my car resulting in damage to the front end of the car," Barton said in a telephone interview March 4.
Barton said the suspect then proceeded to drive the Jeep into the woods where he hit a tree head-on and was arrested without incident.
Besides the Oregon County charges, Caughron is wanted in Howell County on four charges including two class C felony second degree assault charges and two class C felony felonious restraint charges with bond set in Howell County in the amount of $150,000.