BY DAVID BURCHAM DBURCHAM@NCNEWSONLINE.COM





It was like a scene from a movie for passers-by in a busy downtown intersection Thursday. Just before 11:30 a.m., the calm was shattered when three gunshots were fired near the corner of East North Street and Cochran Way. George Jacob Freed II, 27, was taken into custody just before noon after allegedly firing three times at a 1999 Ford Explorer. The white sport utility vehicle was being driven west on East North Street by James Bailey, 32. The New Castle resident faces six charges: attempt to commit homicide, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct, terroristic threats and discharging a firearm in the city. He was arraigned by District Judge David A. Rishel, who set a preliminary hearing for Thursday in Lawrence County Central Court. Bond was set at $75,000 and Freed was placed in the Lawrence County jail. Autumn Reid, who noted she is Freed's girlfriend, said Bailey pulled a gun on Freed and he responded by producing a .45-caliber handgun and firing three times. Police Chief Thomas Sansone said Bailey, who was not injured, drove directly to the police station, about two blocks away, where he and his car were searched just moments after the incident. Police found no weapon. "There doesn't seem to be any motivating factor," Sansone said. "If the two men know each other, they are keeping it a secret." Sansone said the men told slightly different stories. Bailey indicated Freed and his girlfriend were attempting to cross the street when he drove past. The chief said no witness, other than Freed's girlfriend, reported that Bailey had a gun. A witness said she saw Freed aim and fire three shots. Bailey's car was struck three times, police said -- in the bottom of the back hatch, the driver's side panel and the left rear tire, which went flat. Sansone said that indicates Freed fired after the vehicle had passed him. Freed crossed the street to The Gourmet Place and asked owners to call police. When they arrived a few moments later, Freed was arrested. The three shell casings were visible on North Street, near Cochran Way and police recovered a handgun and clip in a gravel parking area behind The Gourmet Place. Reid, 19, of 1017 Beech Street, said she and Freed had been walking west on North Street when the SUV pulled to the curb. She said the driver began talking to Freed and pulled a gun. After Freed pulled his gun and began firing, she continued, the car sped away, turning north onto North Jefferson Street. "I told him to put it (the gun) away," Reid said. She did not recognize the driver, she said, and did not know if the men know each other. Reid said Freed owns three handguns and has a license to carry. Saying she does not believe Freed had been in trouble before, Reid called him "a sweet guy." Some of the witnesses are employees of the New Castle News and recognized Freed, a former street hawker for the newspaper. "I can't believe anyone would fire a gun at an intersection where so many people could get hurt," said Robert Bailey, another witness who is not related to the victim. The incident took place just as people were beginning to venture out for lunch.



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