05/09/2003

Woman Steals Deputy's Car, Gun During Tenn. Jail Escape

She Holds Gun to Son's Head During Standoff with Police

The Associated Press

SMITHVILLE, Tenn. - A woman who escaped from a Tennessee county jail and fled in a stolen police car grinned Friday as she put a gun to her 3-year-old son's head when the cops surrounded her.

Karen Lynn Lovell, who kidnapped the boy from his legal guardian after escaping from the DeKalb County jail, was shot and seriously injured by a deputy as she held the child, police said.

Minutes earlier, surrounded by the cops, she had held her son in her arms and put her gun to his head, threatening to shoot unless police backed off. Television news crews from Nashville (search) videotaped the incident.

The child wasn't injured, but television footage showed him crying and with blood on his face as a law enforcement officer carried him from the scene. The deputy also was not injured.

Authorities said Lovell was shot once and sent to Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga.

"The child is safe and that's absolutely the No. 1 thing," a visibly upset Sheriff Lloyd Emmons said. "Unfortunately, she engaged my deputy with the handgun, and she was shot. She is still alive and she is going to Erlanger by air ambulance. We certainly hope she'll be all right."

According to DeKalb authorities, the incident began late Thursday when Lovell faked a seizure and was taken from the jail to a local hospital.

As she was brought back to the jail about 1 a.m. Friday, she managed to slip away from deputies and stole a patrol car, sheriff's dispatcher Janice Higham said.

She then went to the home of her sister, who has legal custody of Lovell's child, and took the boy at gunpoint, officials said.

A deputy set up a roadblock nearby, but Lovell charged through it, striking and slightly injuring him.

"She hit one of our officers with the vehicle, then she wrecked the vehicle," Higham said.

Lovell, who was serving a jail sentence for harassment and stalking, took off on foot with the boy.

Lovell was found by authorities outside a home just down the street from where she abducted her son.

The deputy who fired the shot was not identified but reports described him as upset and crying after the incident.

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