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Woman faces several charges following domestic violence arrest

John Thompson • Jan 8, 2020 at 7:51 PM

ELIZABETHTON — A Roan Mountain woman, Heather Rene Shell, 39, 168 Dolan Hollow Road, was accused of hitting a member of her family with a baseball bat, setting his house on fire and firing a shot toward deputies during a domestic violence incident on Jan. 5. In Dolan Hollow.

Deputy Justin Covington was dispatched to the scene. When he arrived, he spoke with the male relative, who said Shell had broken down his basement door trying to get inside. The man said he then locked his upstairs door, but then heard Shell trying to break through a section of drywall. He said Shell got into the residence by using a baseball bat to break through the drywall. The man said she climbed through the hole and attacked him with the bat, hitting him 10 to 12 times.

Covington said the man had bruises on both forearms that resembled defensive blocking wounds.

Covington asked the man where Shell was and was told she was inside. As the deputy began to look around, he said he noticed heavy smoke pouring out the front door. Covington told the man his house was on fire and radioed 911 to send the fire department and rescue squad.

Covington said he then noticed heavy smoke at the front entrance and saw fire at two windows on opposite sides of the residence. Covington said it appeared the fires were started by setting the curtains on fire.

Once the fire was extinguished, Covington said he began searching the house for Shell. He found a bat lying in the floor near the exit door. Covington said Shell had the bat when she was upstairs, so she could have discarded it when she ran out the basement door while they were fighting the fire. While searching the house, Covington said he found nine 9 mm bullets lying on a window sill.

A police dog team from the Avery County, N.C., Sheriff’s Department responded and began assisting the search for Shell. As they began the search, Covington said he heard the sound of gunfire and then the sound of a ricochet near them. They took cover and began scanning the area, but made no contact.

Lt. Isaac Rhea arrived on the scene with additional officers and a search was soon conducted of the area. Covington reported that Shell was not found. He filed a warrant charging Shell with aggravated assault, arson, vandalism and evading arrest. She was taken into custody later.

Shell was arraigned in Sessions Court on Tuesday. Judge Keith Bowers Jr. appointed a public defender for Shell and ordered her next court appearance for Jan 14.

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