The following press release has been issued by Towns County Sheriff's Office. All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
On Wednesday, July 15, 2015, Towns County Deputies, the patrol lieutenant and an agent assigned to the Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement Office, initiated a traffic stop on Highway 76 at the old Mohawk building. What began as a misdemeanor traffic offense soon escalated into a felony stop with nearly deadly consequences.
Immediately, the driver exhibited aggression towards the officers and began making statements consistent with "sovereign citizen" type beliefs. Rather than comply with deputies, the driver reached for a gun. Fearing their safety and the safety of the public, deputies were forced to make entry into the vehicle by breaking the driver side window and then physically remove the driver from the vehicle. As the driver was being removed from the vehicle, he attempted to reach for another gun, this one located in a holster at the small of his back. Deputies were able to get the suspect under control and disarm him.
One deputy was slightly injured by broken glass, but due to the quick action of the two seasoned officers, no serious injuries occurred. The suspect was checked by EMS and refused any medical treatment.
Deputies removed several firearms from the vehicle and the driver. Each of them were within reach of the suspect during the altercation. The firearms included a 9mm hand gun, a .45 caliber hand gun, a .40 caliber hand gun, a .44 magnum caliber short rifle, and a .223 caliber AR-15 format carbine. Several additional ammunition magazines were with the firearms. Each of the firearms were loaded and all, except the AR-15, had rounds in the chamber. Two of the pistols, including the one on the suspect's person were cocked.
The suspect, Dustin Lee Gunnells, age 30, of Hiawassee, was arrested and charged with six counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer and six counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. He is currently being held at the Towns County Sheriff's Detention Center. Bond has not been set at this time.
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