Two Joplin Men Charged with Illegal Firearms Following Car Chase, K-9 Search
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that two Joplin, Mo., men have been charged in federal court, in separate but related cases, with illegally possessing firearms after they attempted to hide and flee from law enforcement officers.
Franklin McLean, 34, and Theodore Lane, 36, both of Joplin, were charged in separate criminal complaints filed in the U.S. District Court in Springfield, Mo., on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. McLean and Lane were each charged with being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.
The federal criminal complaint alleges that McLean was in possession of a Ruger .223-caliber rifle, a Keltec 9mm pistol and a round of .45-caliber ammunition. Another federal criminal complaint alleges that Lane was in possession of a loaded Panther Arms .223-caliber rifle.
According to affidavits filed in support of the federal criminal complaints, law enforcement officers obtained a search warrant for McLean's residence on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015. Due to the presence of firearms at the residence, the Jasper County Sheriff's Department SWAT team assisted in the execution of the search warrant. When the SWAT team arrived at McLean's residence at about 10:30 p.m., the affidavit says, Lane was sitting in a truck that was idling next to McLean's mobile home. Officers ordered him to get out of the truck, the affidavit says, but Lane drove in the direction of the SWAT team in an effort to flee in the vehicle. Lane allegedly drove the vehicle through a barbed wire fence and traveled south on Blackcat Road.
Joplin police officers pursued Lane on numerous residential streets through Joplin, according to the affidavit, eventually traveling south of town into Newton County. Officers made several attempts to deploy stop sticks to flatten the tires of the truck, however, Lane was able to avoid them. While still being pursued in Newton County, Lane made a turn onto Apricot Drive from Coyote Drive and, while doing so, caused one of the tires to come off the rim. Once this happened, sparks began coming from the truck.
According to the affidavit, the pursuit continued in the Greenwood area with Lane leading officers to the outer road on the north side of I-44. Lane drove off the roadway and his truck became stuck in the field. Lane made several attempts to get the vehicle unstuck but was unsuccessful. When the pursuing officers arrested him, the affidavit says, they found a loaded Panther Arms .223-caliber rifle with a noise suppressor in a black rifle case inside the truck, as well as ammunition.
In the meantime, officers entering McLean's mobile home heard glass shatter on the north side of the residence. They saw shattered glass on the ground from a window, and noticed a small opening in the skirt around the bottom of the mobile home. Officers entered the residence, where they detained two females and discovered numerous firearms -- including three shotguns, a sawed-off shotgun, six rifles and two handguns -- and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. A window had been broken in the bathroom on the north side of the residence.
A K-9 unit was called to the scene and the dog dragged McLean out from underneath the mobile home. Officers searched McLean and found a round of .45-caliber ammunition, two cell phones and a large amount of cash. McLean's hands were bloody and he had blood on his clothes, according to the affidavit. He told officers that he had been bitten by the dog and had glass in his hands, and he was treated for his injuries and transported to the Jasper County jail.
Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony to be in possession of any firearms or ammunition. McLean has prior felony convictions for receiving stolen property, creating/altering chemicals into a controlled substance and distributing/manufacturing a controlled substance. Lane has prior felony convictions for aiding and abetting the unlawful possession of equipment, chemicals and materials used to manufacture methamphetamine, tampering with a motor vehicle and stealing a motor vehicle.
Dickinson cautioned that the charges contained in these complaints are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eggert. It was investigated by the Joplin, Mo., Police Department and the Jasper County, Mo., Sheriff's Department.