WARRENTON, Ga. - Sgt. Madera Holmes has patrolled by the Chevron Convenience Store on dozens of occasions in the past. But in his routine check of the business early Monday, he discovered that someone had broken out the front door glass.
The only thing the Warrenton Police Department veteran officer wasn't sure about at the time was whether the intruders still were inside. Sgt. Holmes, who called for backup assistance from Officer Jamie Henning, soon got his answer.
Before going inside the business, Sgt. Holmes looked through a window and quickly spotted a person wearing a black ski mask attempting to pry open an ATM machine with some sort of object. Immediately, he alerted a dispatcher.
"I then entered the business and confronted one of the subjects and held him at gunpoint," Sgt. Holmes said.
Officer Henning later entered the business and spotted a second intruder hiding behind a beer display, located near the front door.
Within seconds, the police officers received help from Warren County Sheriff's Department Deputies William Gant and Joey Smith.
Officers immediately placed both of the suspects in handcuffs.
Lt. Ron Sellers, who along with Police Chief Jim McClain, also responded to the call, identified the suspects as Steve Cody Gabriel, 32, of the 600 block of Shoals Road, Sparta, and Demetrius D. Culver, 36, of the 100 block of Dyes Drive, Sparta. Both men have been charged with one count each of burglary.
The suspects are being held in the McDuffie County Law Enforcement Center in Thomson.
At least two area law enforcement agencies have expressed an interest in talking to the suspects about other possible burglaries, Lt. Sellers said. Those agencies include the Thomson Police Department, where a series of residential and commercial break-ins have occurred during recent weeks, and the Taliaferro County Sheriff's Department in Crawfordville.
Aside from the burglary charges that both men are facing, investigative holds also have been placed on them, Lt. Sellers said.
The ranking police officer praised Sgt. Holmes and Officer Henning for their action.
"Both of them did a heck of a job in catching these guys," Lt. Sellers said.
Authorities discovered that wires to a burglar alarm system were cut in the rear of the business and the intruders had left a Nissan Maxima unattended across from the By-Pass at Gunn's Mini Mart. The car is owned by a woman in Sparta.
Both of the suspects have lengthy criminal pasts, and one of the men was just released from federal prison seven days before he was arrested as a suspect for the burglary in Warrenton, The McDuffie Mirror has learned.
Lt. Sellers said his department would be interviewing the suspects further to see if they had anything to do with the recent break-in of the Family Dollar Store, located on the By-Pass.