UPDATE: Boone County man taken to hospital after attempted arrest escape

West Virginia

UPDATE: 12:40 p.m. 6/22/2020: A man is in serious condition at a hospital after trying to escape while being transported to jail.

James McCleese, 46, of Ottowa was arrested shortly before 4:30 a.m. in Laurel City after a standoff with deputies where he claimed to have a hostage. During the initial incident, deputies found the front door was barricaded but were able to speak with McCleese who told them he had a woman held hostage inside the home. The deputies called for back up and were assisted by multiple agencies including the WV State Police SWAT Team. 

The Boone County Sheriff’s Office says the incident lasted several hours during which the suspect brandished a firearm to officers. Deputies arrested the suspect without serious incident on active felony warrants for kidnapping and unlawful possession of a firearm stemming from an incident Sunday night in Boone County. Following the standoff, deputies learned there was no hostage in the home.

While being transported to a regional jail, the suspect made an alleged attempt to escape in the Turtle Creek area. According to deputies he was able to move the handcuffs from behind him, came across the seat and allegedly attacked the transporting deputy. 

Police say a struggle ensued as the inmate entered the driver’s compartment and allegedly attempted to take the deputy’s firearm. During the struggle for the handgun, the sheriff’s office says the officer was able to access and use a knife that he carries as a backup weapon to defend himself.

After the cruiser was stopped, the altercation continued outside of the vehicle, according to police.  The escapee allegedly ran to a nearby residence where he attempted to break into the home.  Additional officers found the residents of the home in an altercation with McCleese when they arrived and took him back into custody.

The sheriff’s office says two deputies were transported to the hospital to be treated for body fluid exposure and the transporting deputy received several stitches. Both officers were treated and released.

“The young officer involved in this senseless incident is dedicated to the job, has a spotless record and is one of the best to wear the uniform. We are proud of him and we stand behind his actions 100% and hope he makes a full recovery to continue serving the citizens of Boone County. We are fortunate to have him with us,” Chief Deputy Chad Barker said.

McCleese was transported to the hospital to be treated for injuries related to the alleged escape and attempt to disarm the deputy. Police say he currently remains in serious condition and will be arraigned on the charges related to the active warrants as well as multiple others over the next few days.

The WV State Police are currently conducting the investigation in regard to the escape and attempted disarming of our deputy.


BOONE COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – A Boone County man has been arrested following what was believed to be a hostage situation.

The Boone County Sheriff’s Office says James McCleese of Ottawa was arrested on prior warrants following an incident Monday, June 22. Deputies say they responded around 11:30 p.m. to a home in Laurel City along with the West Virginia State Police SWAT Team. They say it was thought McCleese was allegedly holding a woman hostage.

After a standoff that lasted nearly five hours, deputies arrested McCleese just before 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 23, 2020, and learned there was no hostage. The Boone County Sheriff’s Office is investigating and they say McCleese could face additional charges.

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