MINOT – The man who led law enforcement on a chase that started in McLean County and ended in downtown Minot on Saturday, which included gunfire from sheriff’s deputies, made his initial appearance in a Minot courtroom late Monday.
Joshua Chambers, 18, Minot, made his appearance in North-Central District Court in front of Judge Richard Hagar. As a result of the recent pursuit, Chambers is charged with 13 felonies, the most serious being Attempted Murder, a class A felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison; four misdemeanors, and one infraction.
During his court appearance previous charges against Chambers, for which a warrant was issued, were detailed by Hagar. They included two C felonies for Theft of more than $1,000 and Fleeing a Peace Officer.
This past Saturday Chambers was driving a vehicle reported to be stolen when a McLean County deputy attempted a traffic stop for speeding. A chase ensued northbound on U.S. Highway 83. A Ward County deputy was deploying a spike strip to flatten the tires on the vehicle driven by Chambers when, it is alleged, that Chambers swerved the vehicle toward the deputy. That act is the basis for the charge of attempted murder.
The deputy responded with two gunshots directed at the vehicle driven by Chambers but with no effect. The vehicle continued into the City of Minot, eventually striking several vehicles, including those of law enforcement, before coming to a stop near the railroad tracks east of Central Campus in the heart of the city. A third shot was fired by law enforcement in the incident within the city.
There were three passengers in the vehicle, with two of the occupants fleeing the scene on foot. They were quickly apprehended. Others involved were identified as Justyn Smith, 32, Minot, and Ajarius Hamilton, 20, Minot, and a female juvenile who was reportedly struck in the foot by a bullet. Her condition has not been released. She was not charged in the affair.
Smith has a lengthy list of charges in his past, the most recent a misdemeanor Criminal Trespass charge on January 25, 2023. As a result of Saturday’s involvement, two previous felony charges against Smith have been re-opened. Those charges included Refusal to Halt and Unlawful Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Both had been deemed misdemeanors with release from jail for time served.
Hamilton also had a felony theft charge closed as a misdemeanor and was released from the Ward County Jail after serving 32 days.
During Monday’s court session, in which Chambers appeared on interactive television, the state said they were “appalled” at the “very dangerous” actions by Chambers, saying “He doesn’t care at all who he hurts” and is a “clear and obvious danger to our community.”
The state asked for a $5-million bond. Judge Hagar set bond at $1 million. A preliminary hearing for Chambers was scheduled for April 5, 2023, at 2:30 p.m.