Man is arrested after accepting ride from deputy

OKEECHOBEE — A local man was arrested Monday night after accepting a ride home from an Okeechobee County deputy. Noah Thomas Southerland, 59, was charged with possession of methamphetamine, and his bond was set at $750.

Noah Thomas Southerland

According to the arrest report, Deputy Richard Varnadore was on patrol in the 3800 block of State Road 710 East on Sept. 30 at approximately 10:15 p.m. when he saw Southerland walking west along the highway. The report notes, Southerland appeared to stumble as he walked. Deputy Varnadore stopped to ask Southerland if he was OK, and he reportedly told him his car broke down, and he was walking home. Deputy Varnadore then asked him if he would like a ride, and he said, “That would sure be nice.”

Deputy Varnadore told him he would need to be searched before entering the vehicle and asked him if he had any weapons on him, and Southerland reportedly reached into his right front pocket and pulled out a black handgun. Deputy Varnadore grabbed the gun and detained Southerland, but he reportedly said, “It’s OK, I have a concealed carry license.” The deputy explained he was supposed to present his concealed carry license to law enforcement and tell them he had a weapon, not just pull the weapon out of his pocket, and Southerland reportedly apologized.

Deputy Varnadore notes, Southerland was sweating profusely, unable to stand still, and appeared to be under the influence of some substance. When he searched Southerland, Deputy Varnadore reportedly found another gun in a pocket of his pants, and then felt a hard object in his left front pocket, but every time he reached for it, Southerland jerked away. In the pocket, he allegedly found an eyeglass case containing a methamphetamine pipe and three grams of methamphetamine. In his wallet, he did have a concealed carry permit. He was transported to the county jail.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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