Police arrest men after crashing into Coast Guard base

Photo Credit: WCIV

CHARLESTON (WCIV) -- The U.S. Coast Guard was put on alert early Sunday morning, when some unexpected visitors came crashing through their gate.

Charleston police say the incident started around 1 a.m. when officers responded to reports of a stolen car in downtown Charleston. Officers say when they attempted to stop the car, the two suspects drove off, turned onto Tradd Street, and sped off. Moments later, police were notified the two men had slammed through the main gate of the Coast Guard Station Charleston, and were loose on the base.

A spokesman with the Coast Guard says the base was then evacuated as a SWAT team was brought in to locate the two suspects. A coast guard boat and helicopter were used in the search effort along with K-9 units. The K-9 units found the suspects several hours later hiding under a dock on the base.

The suspects have since been identified as 22-year-old Christopher Coward and 20-year-old James Deese. Charleston police say the car they were driving was reported stolen in Lexington. According to the Lexington County Sheriff's Office, the men were wanted for stealing a 2011 Chevy Malibu from a home in Chapin during the weekend.

"I don't think there was inferous incident here, they are suspected of having committed a home invasion and car jacking inland. From what we understand this was their first time in Charleston," said U.S. Coastguard Captain Mike White. "They just chose a really bad place to try to hide. I would not characterize this as a terrorist attack, these were just criminals making some really bad choices."

White also believes alcohol may have played a role in the incident.

Following the incident the two men were questioned by the officials with the Coast Guard, FBI, and Charleston Police Department.

According to Police, Coward is charged with unlawful possession of a handgun, possession of a stolen vehicle, and failure to stop for police. Deese is being charged with possession of a handgun.

They are now in custody at the Charleston County Detention Center.

(This story courtesy WCIV and