A jail photo of Joshua Joe Barnes from an earlier arrest. (Bell County Jail/file)
MCGREGOR (October 25, 2013)— Authorities recovered three grams of methamphetamine and $700 in cash from the center console of a pickup truck belonging to a Central Texas man who jumped to his death from the State Highway 36 bridge over Lake Belton after a chase through three Central Texas counties, McGregor police said Friday.
Joshua Joe Barnes, 38, jumped from the bridge near Moffat early Wednesday morning after leading officers on a 40-mile high-speed chase that started in McGregor.
Investigators also recovered Barnes’ cellphone from which “numerous drug-related text messages were retrieved along with recent photographs of Barnes’ involvement with criminal activity,” police said in a press release Friday.
Online records indicate Barnes was released from state prison this summer after serving a 5-year sentence for an aggravated robbery in 2008 in McLennan County.
The chase started shortly after 2 a.m. Wednesday after a McGregor officer attempted to stop Barnes for a traffic violation.
The McGregor officer gave chase as the fleeing driver headed west on U.S. Highway 84 toward Gatesville, where deputies from Coryell County joined the chase.
Barnes turned east on State Highway 36 toward Temple and soon Bell County deputies were involved in the chase as well, Adams said.
As Barnes pulled onto the long bridge on State 36 over Lake Belton, he stopped his vehicle on the wrong side of the road, climbed onto the bridge rail and jumped into the dark waters of the lake some 60 feet below.
A Texas Parks and Wildlife game warden said later in the morning the water below the bridge was only about 6- to 7-feet deep.
Moffat fire department personnel, McGregor police and Bell County deputies began an immediate search for the man and as soon as it was light Wednesday morning a rescue dive team from Morgan’s Point Fire Department joined the effort.