A state trooper involved in a shootout on Highway 27 on the evening of Jan. 9 testified Tuesday, "It was raining bullets on me."
At a hearing in General Sessions Court, dramatic footage was shown of the incident in which police said Cody Seals fired dozens of bullets from an assault rifle toward two troopers.
Judge Cris Helton bound multiple charges against Seals and Courtney Faulkner to the Grand Jury. Seals faces drug and gun charges along with two counts of attempted first-degree murder, reckless endangerment, evading arrest and reckless driving. Ms. Faulkner has drug charges. Seals had a long gash across the left side of his head from surgery for a bullet wound.
Trooper Khalat Ghazi told of coming up on a white Ford F150 pickup truck just after it had been sent careening across the median and across southbound lanes near Morrison Springs Road.
He said he first saw Ms. Faulkner come out from behind the vehicle holding her hands up. He said he hollered for her to get down, but "she just kept walking."
Trooper Ghazi said he then saw Seals toting what looked to him like an AK47. He said he was out of his vehicle and armed only with his Glock semi automatic .357 pistol. Knowing that Seals had been firing at the troopers during the chase, said, "I knew he was going to try to kill me if I didn't fire." He said he got off about five shots with the handgun before running to his patrol car to retrieve a long gun. He said, "I was trained you don't fight a person with a rifle with a handgun."
He said as he reached for the rifle he saw Seals approaching with the machine gun-type weapon that he said was outfitted with a drum cartridge holding 50-100 rounds. He said, "He was walking toward me hoping to kill me and he was only about 10 feet away."
Troopher Ghazi said, "Shots just started raining on me." He said the patrol car proved no haven from the barrage of shots. He said, "It was just like shooting through a tin can."
He said he decided to make a run for it and ran around the car though the non-stop bullets continued. He said just as he was nearing the back of the vehicle he felt a sharp pain in the leg and knew he had been hit.
The trooper said he sought better protection and briefly got in a small ditch. Then he ran across the southbound lanes and crouched behind the guard rail, though he said it was little protection. He said at that time two men in a pickup truck stopped and offered help.
He said they were in danger because they were in the line of fire. He got in with them briefly to get to the other side of a small bridge.
Trooper Ghazi said he ran back to the scene of the shootout and found his partner, Trooper Richard Thomas, on top of a wounded Seals.
He said he could see that Seals had gotten inside the front of his patrol car. He said there was a large amount of blood and throw up in the floorboard.
Trooper Ghazi said he later went to the hospital and had his leg injury checked out. He said he still has a large piece of shrapnel in his leg.
Trooper Thomas said the TBI had been investigating Seals for drug dealing and was following him on the interstate that evening. The trooper, who is with the interdiction task force, said he was notified Seals had gone from I-75 to I-24. He said he set up to watch for him at the Signal Mountain Boulevard exit of Highway 27.
He said he took off after Seals after seeing the pickup truck following too closely to the vehicle ahead of it. He said he was soon joined by Trooper Ghazi in the chase.
Seals first signaled left and went to the fast lane, but then moved over to the edge of the right side of the road. He stopped for a few seconds and then took off at speeds of about 97 miles per hour, it was stated.
Trooper Thomas said as they were speeding down the road he saw the driver reach his hand out of the driver's window and begin firing toward them with a handgun. He said he fired back through his windshield.
Trooper Thomas said, fearing for public safety, he began to take steps to try to get the Ford F150 off the roadway. He said the first try was unsuccessful when Seals slammed on the brakes and then accelerated. A short time later he said he was able to put the truck into a spin and send it across to the other side of the highway.
The trooper said by the time he got to the truck and saw Trooper Ghazi's vehicle near it he got out to check on his partner. He said, "I didn't know if he had been shot or had been killed."
He said he found Seals down, bleeding heavily from a shot to the head.
Trooper Thomas said he suffered injuries from flying glass fragments and also sustained some hearing loss due to the incident.
He said both patrol cars are totaled.
Detective Richard Rush said a search of the pickup truck turned up over three pounds of meth, a pound of heroin and a third of a pound of marijuana. Weapons recovered included two assault rifles and a handgun.
District Attorney Neal Pinkston said the couple was from around Knoxville, but apparently had been spending some time in Spring City.
Ted Engels of the public defender's office asked that the bond for Ms. Faulkner be lowered, saying $150,000 was excessive. Judge Helton cut it to $100,000. Seals is held on $690,000 bond.
It was testified that at the shooting scene Ms. Faulkner was "surprisingly calm for what she had been through."
Click here to listen to the hearing.