Officer James Walter Sell

Officer James Walter Sell

Gassville Police Department, Arkansas

End of Watch Saturday, February 4, 2006

Add to My Heroes

James Walter Sell

Officer Jim Sell was shot and killed during a traffic stop in front of the Brass Door Motel at 621 East Main Street.

He had stopped a vehicle driven by a violent assault suspect whom police had been searching for. The assault occurred at a New Bedford, Massachusetts, bar during the evening of February 1st, 2006. In that incident, the suspect struck two patrons with a small hatchet and then shot and wounded both men and a third man before escaping. The hatchet was found outside the bar, but the firearm had not been located.

The suspect, who eluded a nationwide manhunt for 1,400 miles and two days, was pulled over for a traffic violation in the parking lot of a motel by Officer Sell at approximately 2:30 pm. The suspect immediately opened fire, striking Officer Sell once in the arm and twice in the head, killing him. The suspect then drove around the motel and returned to Officer Sell to retrieve his driver's license.

As the suspect sped off, a motel worker called 911 to report the shooting. The worker gave police a detailed description of the suspect's vehicle. A Baxter County sheriff's deputy located the suspect's car on Arkansas State Highway 201 and a high-speed pursuit followed.

Officers deployed spike strips in an attempt to stop the vehicle. When the car struck the strips a short time later, the suspect lost control and crashed into a parked car, coming to a rest facing pursuing officers. The suspect then shot and killed his female passenger.

Still seated, the suspect next opened fire on police through his window. Officers from the Arkansas State Police and the Baxter County Sheriff’s Office returned fire. The suspect was transported from the scene with a gunshot wound to the head. It was later determined that he committed suicide during the gun battle.

Officer Sell was a U.S. Navy veteran. He had served with the Blytheville Police Department for 27 years before retiring as a captain in 2000. He served as a part-time officer with the Gassville Police Department for three years.


  • Age 63
  • Tour 30 years
  • Badge 6
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; 9 mm
  • Offender Committed suicide

fugitive, traffic stop

Most Recent Reflection

View all 419 Reflections

I first met Jim the day he showed up to be interviewed and take the Blytheville Police Department civil service examination. I was just leaving the police department when he entered the lobby and asked me to direct him to the room where the exams were being given. I remember he was wearing a black suit with short trousers and the redest socks I'd ever seen. Ha! He was quite a guy. A very outgoing and amiable man. He always had a smile on his face and a kind word for everyone he met. He worked 27 years for our department before retiring as a patrol captain. I was lucky enough to have run in to Jim at a local restaurant and we had lunch together shortly before he retired. Jim was a fine man, and he was one of the most thoughtful and generous men I have known. I am told that shortly before he was killed he had personally found and paid for a good used truck as replacement for one for his friends teen daughter after her truck had broke down. That was the kind of man Jim Sell was. May he rest in peace.

Ron Evans

July 31, 2023

Want even more control of your Reflection? Create a free ODMP account now for these benefits:

  • Quick access to your heroes
  • Reflections published quicker
  • Save a Reflection signature
  • View, edit or delete any Reflection you've left in the past

Create an account for more options, or use this form to leave a Reflection now.