Though altered, scientists at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s State Crime Lab were able to recover the handgun’s serial number through a chemical process, said Athens-Clarke police Sgt. Rick Hammond.
Authorities ran the serial number though a firearms database and learned it was reported stolen about a year ago in a different county, Hammond said.
Crowell was arrested by Athens-Clarke police in June at a vehicle checkpoint near the UGA campus. An officer who smelled the odor of marijuana searched the car. Though police failed to locate any contraband, they did find the 9mm Lugar semiautomatic pistol under the driver’s seat.
Police charged Crowell with possession of a weapon in a school zone and possession of a firearm with an altered identification, both felonies, and the misdemeanor charge of carrying a concealed firearm.
The Bulldogs dismissed Crowell the same day as his arrest.
Crowell was ranked the country’s No. 1 running back and No. 4 prospect overall by ESPN Recruiting in 2011, but he had a rocky first season with the Bulldogs last year. He ran 185 times for 850 yards with five touchdowns as a freshman, but was dogged by disciplinary problems throughout the summer.
Crowell now plays for Alabama State University.
Clarke County prosecutors have not yet sought an indictment against Crowell. They first wanted to conclude tests on the gun before presenting evidence to a grand jury.
Criminals using stolen weapons sometimes alter serial numbers in an attempt to keep police from tracing the guns back to the owners. It’s standard procedure for GBI Crime Lab ballistics experts to try to match stolen guns to unsolved crimes, Hammond said.
All tests and investigations concerning the stolen gun have concluded, paving the way for a grand jury presentation. If indicted, he will have to return to Athens to be arraigned on the criminal charges.
“At this point, the (district attorney’s) office is aware of everything that has been done” in Crowell’s case, Hammond said.
An officer arrested Crowell at about 2:20 a.m. June 30 at the intersection of East Campus Road and East Green Street. He and four passengers — all UGA football players — were heading home from Aftermath, a downtown Athens nightclub, Crowell told police.
An officer asked Crowell why he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and the football player replied he had “taken it off to reach for things while approaching the check,” according to the arrest report.
None of the other football players in Crowell’s car were charged.
When an officer found the gun, Crowell insisted he didn’t know it was there and said he allows others to drive the vehicle, police said.
Crowell was released from the Clarke County Jail the same day as his arrest after posting a $6,000 bond.