MOULTRIE -- A 27-year-old Moultrie man has been charged with possessing a fully automatic assault rifle -- a crime punishable by five years prison.

Jerry Tidwell, 155 Cherokee Road, was also charged Friday with DUI, open container, misdemeanor possession of marijuana, carrying a concealed weapon and possessing a drug-related object.

The case has been turned over the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco.

"Anytime we recover a weapon that has been identified from its original state, we notify ATF," said Moultrie Police Capt. Tommy Rabon.

The gun, a Bushmaster M-16, is legal in a semi-automatic format, the way it comes off the production line. But it becomes illegal if someone converts it fully-automatic.

Rabon said the gun was loaded, and six full 30-round magazines and one full 90-round magazine was found inside his 2002 Ford Excursion.

Investigator Mike Schneider said the gun was test fired once it was confiscated.

No bail has been set for Tidwell, who was in the Colquitt County Jail Friday evening.

Police reports said Tidwell was parked on the 100 block of First Street Southeast about 1 a.m. Friday in a store parking lot when a patrolling officer drove by. The officer noticed someone inside the vehicle and that its engine was running. Upon circling the block, the officer stopped to talk to Tidwell and smelled alcohol and marijuana, reports said.

Also found in the truck was a bayonet, a 12-gauge shotgun and several types of ammunition, reports said.

While Georgia law mandates a five-year sentence, Colquitt County Assistant District Attorney Drew Pope said that Tidwell may not have to serve any time in prison.

"The book doesn't say that it can't be probated, so a judge could technically probate the whole sentence," he said.

Other arrests

Christopher Morris, 28, 18 First Ave. S.E., was charged Wednesday with DUI and driving on an expired driver's license

Victor Oritz, 18, 150 30th Ave. N.W., was charged Thursday with interfering with custody.

Anthony Nguyen, 19, 401 31st Ave. S.E., was charged Thursday with using fighting words.

Tyshawn Christopher, 20, 616 Third St. S.E., was charged Thursday with violating probation.

Antonio Atwater, 29, of Miraman, Fla., was charged Thursday with driving under the influence of marijuana, misdemeanor possession of marijuana and insufficient headlights.

Tyshawn Keith, 18, 3212 Sylvester Hwy., was charged Thursday with violating probation.

Derrick Peterson, 19, 815 Third Ave. N.W., was charged Thursday with violating probation.

James Lee, 35, 185 Hwy. 256, Norman Park, was charged Thursday with two counts of bad checks and is being held for bad check charges in Tift County.

Jimmy Lewis, 39, 1311 First Ave. N.W., was charged Thursday with possession of cocaine.


Maria Mejorado, 125 Cherry Ave., reported Wednesday that a stove, refrigerator, chest freezer, washer, dryer, television, satellite equipment and riding lawn mower were all stolen from her property, sheriff's reports said.

Kirby Lynch, 712 Seventh Ave. S.E., reported Thursday that his go-cart was stolen from his home, but it was recovered in the ditch on the 700 block of Sixth Avenue Southeast.

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