Lorena police arrested a 27-year-old passenger of a car who officers believe was trying to chamber a round in a handgun during a traffic stop Monday night, Lorena Police Chief Tom Dickson said.

A two-officer Lorena police unit stopped the car Miguel Cortez Jr., of Moffat, was riding in at about 7 p.m. for driving in the passing lane for an extended period of time, police said. One of the officers immediately smelled marijuana in the car, Dickson said.

The driver was defiant when an officer started asking questions, and the officer had him get out of the car, he said. While one officer was handcuffing the driver and walking him back to the patrol car to detain him, the other officer pulled his gun and ordered the passenger, Cortez, to keep his hands up, Dickson said.

"His partner drew his sidearm and heard him state that the passenger had a weapon," Dickson said. "The passenger was reaching down to the passenger-side floorboard with his hands and reaching for a black handgun."

Both officers pointed their weapons at Cortez and told him to lie on the ground with his hands behind his head.

"The officers felt like they were fixing to get shot or they were going to have to shoot somebody," Dickson said. "They didn't want to have to do either one of those, but they were able to give verbal commands that the passenger finally complied with."

The gun was loaded when officers took it, and they believe Cortez was trying to chamber a round when the first officer ordered him to put his hands up, Dickson said.

Officers also found a set of brass knuckles with a knife attached, a small amount of marijuana, three prescription pills and a small amount of methamphetamine, he said. Cortez is a felon and prohibited from having weapons, officials reported.

He was arrested on a first-degree felony charge of aggravated assault of a public servant; third-degree felony charges of resisting arrest with a deadly weapon, unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of a controlled substance; Class A misdemeanor charges of possession of brass knuckles, unlawful carrying of weapon and possession of a controlled substance; and Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

He was also arrested on Bell County warrants charging aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of marijuana.

Cortez remained in McLennan County Jail on Tuesday with bond listed at $105,000.

The driver was cited for traffic violations but was not arrested.

Kristin Hoppa has been covering public safety and breaking news for the Tribune-Herald since January 2016. She worked in Northwest Missouri covering crime-related issues before her move to Central Texas. She is a University of Kansas graduate.

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