Dog helps find Gilmer County's 'most wanted'

Dog helps find Gilmer County's 'most wanted'

February 21st, 2013 By Lisana Eckenrode in Local Regional News

Gilmer County Sheriff's Officers arrest James Michael Stafford on Wednesday in the Gilmer County.

Photo by Gilmer County Sheriff's Office

Gilmer County Sheriff's Officers arrest James Michael Stafford on Wednesday in the Gilmer County.

Photo by Gilmer County Sheriff's Office

Photo by Laura McNutt/Times Free Press.

ELLIJAY, Ga. - A Gilmer County man sought as that area's "most wanted person" after a Feb. 10 triple shooting at his home was taken into custody Wednesday night, authorities said.

Gilmer County Sheriff's Office personnel arrested James Michael Stafford in the Pleasant Hill area after he was tracked down by a police K9 named Daisy.

Stafford was wanted on two counts of aggravated assault and one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, Sheriff Stacy Nicholson stated in an earlier news release. Stafford was charged after investigators processed the crime scene following the shootings at his Simmons Road home.

According to Nicholson, authorities had searched for Stafford since the shootings in a "manner as to not put dangerous pressure" on him. The situation escalated on Feb. 17 when an attempt was made to arrest Stafford, who eluded officers in a vehicle and tried to run over a deputy, the sheriff said. That will result in additional charges, Nicholson said.

Three men, Denis Gravely, Lloyd Silvers and Ricky Silvers, are in custody and charged with aggravated assault after they and Ben Forest went to Stafford's home on the morning of Feb. 10 to collect a debt, the sheriff has said. Two shooting victims, Ricky Silvers and Forest, were flown to Atlanta Medical Center with head wounds.

On Wednesday, Forest was listed in "guarded" condition at that hospital, where he remains in a coma, authorities said.

Stafford's female companion, whose name has not been released, was wounded but not seriously injured, authorities said.

Deputies and Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents had concentrated their search for Stafford in the area between Pleasant Gap Church Road and Pleasant Hill Road.

Tanner Burnell, identified by officials as the brother of the female shooting victim, was arrested Feb. 17 and charged in connection with providing a vehicle to Stafford. In the news release, Nicholson warned any friends of the suspect "not to assist Stafford in any way or they will be arrested for hindering the apprehension of a fugitive."