The two people arrested before and following a standoff with police in Calhoun last week are now facing additional identity theft and forgery charges, according to Chief Deputy Robert Paris the Gordon County Sheriff’s Office.
The pair had a loaded handgun, ammunition, drug paraphernalia, fake identification documents, fake license plates, counterfeit money, an electronic card reader, computers and cash inside the Express Inn room where he barricaded himself for about three hours, according to the sheriff’s office.
Wesley Swartout, 52, who gave his address as the Express Inn, was wanted on forgery charges out of Hamilton County, Tennessee, and was already on out of jail on bond after being arrested in Chattooga County in January on fraud, firearm and obstruction charges. He was charged last Tuesday, May 26, by the sheriff’s office with aggravated assault against peace officers, firearm and fraud charges.
Schalles Williams, 52, of Tennessee, was arrested outside of the hotel room before Swartout pulled out a weapon and barricaded himself inside a room. She was already wanted in Bradley County, Tennessee, on forgery charges. She is being held for that agency.
Paris said on Monday that both individuals have now also been charged with two counts of ID theft/fraud and forgery in the first degree.
The incident began Tuesday afternoon when deputies arrived at the hotel to investigate complaints about drug and counterfeiting activity. Williams was arrested without incident, but Swartout pulled a handgun, pointed it at deputies and ran into a room. A deputy fired at Swartout but he was not hit.
The Georgia State Patrol SWAT Team was called to the scene and eventually breached the room and filled it with tear gas before entering and detaining Swartout.
Sheriff Mitch Ralston said, “I commend all of the officers, state and local, who successfully resolved this issue and effectively apprehended a dangerous offender and his co-conspirator. The state patrol are great partners to have in our mission of keeping Gordon County safe, and we know that we can always call on them. My deputies also did a good job in identifying these violators and collecting the evidence necessary for prosecution. We are thankful that no innocent people were hurt, and this incident serves as a reminder of how dangerous law enforcement can be, and how fortunate our community is to be served by the individuals on my staff as well as the State law enforcement agencies.”
Swartout was identified as “potentially violent and dangerous” by officials with the sheriff’s office on Tuesday afternoon and the Georgia State Patrol SWAT Team was called to the scene. Swartout had barricaded himself in a room and refused to exit for about three hours before SWAT used a special armored vehicle to deploy tear gas and enter the room.
According to the sheriff’s press release, deputies had received a tip about criminal activity and possible fugitives from justice at the inn.
A man at the scene claimed responsibility for contacting police and said he had spoken with the suspect prior to the incident. He said one of the individuals claimed to have robbed a bank in Tennessee and told him that the license plates on his two motorcycles and R.V. were fakes. He also said the suspects said claimed to cash, guns and illegal drugs inside the room.
“He said he would kill himself before he goes back to jail,” the man, who spoke to two members of the media on the condition of anonymity, said. “That’s what he told me.”
The man told reporters at the scene that there was also a woman with the man who was also wanted in Tennessee.
No injuries were reported from the event, though Paris said there was some mild irritation caused by the gas they used to subdue the suspect.
A white man wrapped in only a sheet was seen being led away from the scene in handcuffs before 6 p.m.
Members of the sheriff’s office, the Georgia State Patrol, Calhoun Police Department, Capitol Police, Department of Public Safety and others responded to the event.
Paris said additionally detail surrounding the event will be provided as soon as those can be released.