Rockdale County deputies were hospitalized Monday after walking into fumes from an alleged methamphetamine-making operation while looking for an alleged child-molester at a house next to a day-care center.
The deputies arrived around 2:30 p.m. at a home located at 2164 Old Salem Road to serve warrants out of Pike County to Charles Doyle Nichols, 50, of Zebulon, Ga. for one count of aggravated child molestation and three counts of child molestation.
When the deputies arrived, they found a man in a wheelchair who told them that no one else was at home, according to RCSO spokeswoman Sgt. Jodi Shupe.
After obtaining permission to search the premises, deputies encountered a “fog” in the basement and noticed cinder blocks in a basement wall appeared to have been moved.
“When they moved it out, they found the perpetrator,” said Shupe.
Nichols appeared to be in the process of making methamphetamines in a soda bottle with the “shake and bake” method. The fog had been fumes from the production.
The five Rockdale deputies were decontaminated at the site. Their uniforms were destroyed and they were taken to the hospital.
Nichols and the man in the wheelchair were also taken to the hospital.
Agents with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency called out to the site discovered four 2-liter bottles, each with about a half ounce of materials in the process of becoming methamphetamines, along with other chemicals, said DEA Special Agent Chuvalo Truesdell. The materials were limited to the basement.
Truesdell said the risk to nearby houses would be limited after decontamination. The main risk would have been from explosions or fire, since the “shake and bake” method did not have a way to vent pressure. “When using a plastic container, that isn’t made to hold corrosive materials,” said Truesdell.
A nearby resident, Cathy Hull, said she had no clue of what had been going on in the house. “I’m stunned. I grew up here. I’ve lived here 30 years. I can’t believe this is in my neighborhood. I’m absolutely stunned,” Hull said.
She recalled he monitored his yard. “I saw all these cameras out here and we even asked him, ‘Why you got all these cameras out here?’ He said we live out in the woods and wanted to make sure nothing was going on.”
According to Shupe, Nichols now faces charges for the manufacture of methamphetamine, in addition to the one count of aggravated child molestation and three counts of child molestation from Pike County, dating from March 2011.
The home is located less than a mile from Flat Shoals Elementary School and less than 100 feet from a day care center.
The condition of the deputies and the men were not immediately available.
(Sept. 19, 6:08 p.m.) The Rockdale County Sheriff's Office was serving an arrest warrant regarding child molestation and other charges at a home on Old Salem Road, when they encountered fumes from the manufacture of methamphetines. Five sheriff deputies and two other men were hospitalized for contamination.
Sheriffs were serving a warrant to Charles Doyle Nichols, 50, of Zebulon, GA. When the deputies arrived at the home, the found an old man in a wheelchair who told them that no one else was at home.
After obtaining permission to search the premises, deputies noticed cinder blocks in the basement appeared to have been moved. They found the Nichols hiding behind the cinder block wall.
Upon finding the suspect, they smelled a strange odor and saw a cloud of smoke. The deputies found evidence of manufacturing methamphetimes, and according to the deputies, the suspect was using the "shake and bake" method of manufacturing the drug.
The deputies were sent to the hospital due after inhaling the fumes.
Federal Drug Enforcement Agency officers were called to the scene.
According to RCSO spokeswoman Sgt. Jodi Shupe, Nichols now faces additional charges for the manufacture of methamphetamine. The home is located less than 100 feet from a day care center.