Athens-Clarke County police have identified at least one of the five suspects in a daring smash-and-grab burglary at an Athens gun store four months ago according to a detective’s affidavit that was filed last week in Superior Court.
The affidavit was in support of a search warrant application to obtain the suspect’s Facebook account records to see if he used social media to communicate with his accomplices in planning the April 28 burglary of the Athens Gun Club on Mill Center Boulevard.
"Affiant also believes that the content may shed light on where the weapons were disposed," the detective wrote in his affidavit.
Police previously withheld information about what was taken in the burglary and the affidavit reveals that 21 guns were stolen.
According to the affidavit, the burglary had been “well planned and highly coordinated” by the suspects, who possibly conducted surveillance of the Athens Gun Club and selected it as a target “due to structural features, inventory and physical location.”
The burglars made two failed attempts to steal vehicles in Athens before they were able to steal a Jeep Grand Cherokee from Abbey West apartments on Epps Bridge Parkway.
The suspects were in a white Audi Q5 which parked near the complex’s entrance and drove into the complex when the entrance gate opened to allow in another vehicle, the affidavit states.
The Audi brought four of the suspects to the gun shop where they entered the building after the Jeep crashed through the entrance, the affidavit states. The burglars loaded the stolen guns into the Audi then fled toward Atlanta Highway.
Police previously said they believed the smash-and-grab burglary was related to a similar crime two weeks earlier in Gwinnett County in which thieves also used a vehicle to gain entry to 3X Firearms in Loganville.
According to the detective’s affidavit filed in court last Thursday, Marquez Dwan Dates, 29, was arrested the afternoon of May 1 by Atlanta police while in possession of a Sig Sauer 9mm semiautomatic pistol that had been stolen from the Athens store.
Dates was charged with possession of cocaine, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and violating parole, according to the Fulton County Jail. According to the Georgia Department of Corrections, Dates was released paroled in August 2017 from Macon State Prison, where he served five years for robbery and aggravated assault convictions in DeKalb County.
The Athens detective stated in his search warrant affidavit that he also received an anonymous tip that Dates and another male were involved in the Athens burglary.
According to the detective’s affidavit, Dates had two Facebook accounts under different names and that one of them had a photograph of him that was posted nine hours prior to the Athens Gun Club burglary in which appeared to be wearing the same denim jacket he had on during the smash-and grab heist.
Athens-Clarke County police did not immediately respond to questions concerning whether arrest warrants had been obtained suspects in the gun heist or where Dates was currently being held.
The Fulton County Jail indicated that he had been released to another, unnamed agency.
Police ask that anyone with information about the Athens Gun Club burglary to contact Detective Paul Davidson at (706) 353-4218, ext. 138 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A $1,000 Crime Stoppers Reward is being offered for information leading to arrests in the incident.
Anonymous calls can be made to the Crime Stoppers confidential tipline at (706) 705-4775.