2 charged in South Ga. firearm theft investigation

James May (left) and Chase White (right)
James May (left) and Chase White (right)(Cook County Sheriff's Office)
Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 6:59 PM EDT
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ADEL, Ga. (WALB) - Two men have been arrested and charged in a firearm theft investigation, according to a press release from the Cook County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO).

The release said James May, 23, of Hahira, and Chase White, 30, of Lenox, have both been arrested and charged following an investigation into firearm thefts and illegal transfers by convicted felons, with warrants issued for a third suspect.

According to the release, CCSO was contacted by the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) at the end of last month with information that May was believed to have been in possession of multiple stolen firearms at his residence in Hahira.

The two sheriff’s offices then conducted a joint investigation that led to the search of May’s home, where he lived with Jordan Royal, on June 1, CCSO reported.

The release states that during the search, they found numerous illegal items and five firearms, two of which had been previously reported stolen from Berrien and Lowndes counties.

They also discovered a .223 rifle that had been illegally altered to allow it to fire “fully automatic,” according to the sheriff’s office.

The search also led to evidence consistent with the manufacturing of homemade “suppressors” and the discovery of a set of ballistic armor plates and armor carriers that had been previously reported stolen in the illegal entering of a Georgia State Patrol (GSP) car in Tift County.

May, who is a convicted felon, according to CCSO, was on probation at the time of the search. He was arrested at the scene and taken to the Cook County Jail.

Royal was arrested by Berrien County on an unrelated warrant, however, the press release says that warrants have been secured for him as well stemming from this investigation.

Following the discovery of the stolen ballistic armor, the Cook County investigation continued, which led to a search warrant White’s residence in Lenox on June 7, according to the press release.

CCSO said during the search, investigators found more items that were identified as having been taken from the illegal entering of the GSP trooper’s vehicle. The press release says a gun safe was removed from the residence and inside it, they found an LWRC 5.56 select-fire rifle embossed with the seal of the Georgia State Patrol, along with additional body armor plates, carriers and gas masks.

The sheriff’s office said White is a convicted felon and was on probation at the time as well.

Officials said White was not at home when the search warrant was served and warrants were secured, charging him in the incident.

On Thursday, around 9 a.m., a deputy spotted a black Honda CRV that had previously been identified as White’s vehicle, parked at his residence, according to the release.

CCSO said that deputies and troopers from GSP attempted to serve the warrant at this time, but White did not come to the door. Based on the nature of the warrants on White and the factors surrounding the investigation, the Georgia State Patrol SWAT team was contacted to assist and attempt to serve the warrant. After entry to the residence by the team, it was discovered that White had left the home earlier. Through investigation, officers determined that White was in a wooded area east of the earlier location, outside of the City of Lenox. During his attempt to escape the area, White was picked up in a vehicle that was stopped by deputies and troopers on Highway 41, south of Lenox, and he was taken into custody.

The release says May and White both face numerous charges stemming from the investigation.

The investigation is still active and ongoing and additional charges and arrests are forthcoming, according to the sheriff’s office.

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