Men accused of ramming down Coast Guard gate charged in federal court

James Deese and Christopher Coward
James Deese and Christopher Coward

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Officials say two men who were in a car that rammed a gate at a Coast Guard station in downtown were charged in federal court this week.

Both James Deese and Christopher Coward were charged with being felons in possession of a firearm that had shipped and transported in interstate and foreign commerce. The charge is in connection to a loaded gun that was found in the July 2011 incident.

In addition, Coward is facing a charge of damaging federal property.

On July 3, 2011, officers say they attempted to stop a suspected stolen car driven by Coward. According to investigators, the suspect's vehicle did not stop and led officers on a police pursuit. At one point a supervisor canceled the traffic stop and officers complied.

Moments later, the Coast Guard notified police that Coward's vehicle had rammed through their security gate in downtown Charleston and were on the Coast Guard base. Police then found both of the suspects hiding under a dock on the base.

At the time, the Charleston Police Department charged Coward with possession of a stolen handgun, possession of a stolen motor vehicle and failure to stop for a blue light.

"All I can say is I was doing a lot of drugs and was in a wrong state of mind. I can't remember anything that happened," Coward told the judge at his bond hearing the following morning.

If convicted, Coward and Deese face a maximum of 10 years and fine of $250,000.

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