(updated Feb. 7, 2024, to reflect an additional charge and court date)
An incident occurred on Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 24, which prompted local schools to use heightened security measures and blocked traffic in a portion of Taylorsville.
Taylorsville Police Chief Michael Millsaps released a statement on the incident on Friday, Feb. 2, about 5:00 p.m., as follows:
“On January 24, around 1:30 p.m., the Taylorsville Police Department received a call in regards to a traffic accident near 429 West Main Ave. Upon arrival officers found a vehicle that had traveled west bound, crossed the double yellow line and struck several utility poles. The vehicle became disabled back in the roadway and stopped.
“The driver of the vehicle, James Oliver Steele, of Taylorsville, was the only occupant of the vehicle. Officers made contact with the driver and detected possible impairment. Alexander County EMS was requested to come and evaluate the driver at the scene. EMS arrived and began to assess the drivers’ injuries. While on scene the driver brandished a firearm and first responders evacuated the area. Officers on scene were able to secure the area and requested additional assistance. The Alexander County Sheriff’s Department along with the North Carolina Highway Patrol responded to the scene and provided a supportive role only while the Taylorsville Police Department was the primary agency. Negotiations began with the driver to try and defuse the situation. During negotiations the driver fired one round from the weapon. None of the officers on scene nor the driver were injured. The Taylorsville Police Department would also like to note that no law enforcement on scene fired any rounds. Officers were able to negotiate a successful surrender. The driver was able to exit the vehicle and was transported to a local medical facility. During the incident, local schools and daycare were placed on lock down as a safety precaution.”
“The driver of the vehicle, James Oliver Steele, has been charged with: Driving While Impaired, Reckless Driving, Driving Left of Center, Unsafe Passing, Exceeding a Safe Speed, Open Container, Damage to Property, Carrying Concealed Weapon, Going Armed to The Terror of The Public,” Chief Millsaps concluded. Millsaps said on Monday that the charge of discharging a firearm within the city limits was also added. Steele was released on the $10,000 bond to await a court date of Feb. 26.
Steele, age 53, is Senior Pastor at East Taylorsville Baptist Church.
The church released the following statement on Feb. 2:
“We are aware of the events that occurred on January 24 in downtown Taylorsville that involved our Senior Pastor, Jamie Steele. Our Deacon Board has met several times and is actively involved in monitoring this situation. At this point, Pastor Steele has been placed on a leave of absence until we have all information.
“We are also aware that, as of February 2, numerous charges have been filed against Pastor Steele by the Taylorsville Police Department. All questions related to the charges should be directed to the Taylorsville Police Department.
“Our church is continuing to pray for our Pastor and his family during this time,” the statement concluded.
According to the N.C. Department of Corrections, Steele has one prior conviction, Driving While Impaired, from 1991.