Singer John Popper arrested with weapons, drugs

SEATTLE Thu Mar 8, 2007 10:27pm EST

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SEATTLE (Reuters) - State troopers arrested Blues Traveler lead singer John Popper after finding handguns, rifles, a switchblade knife and drugs inside his car after it was stopped for speeding, officials said on Thursday.

Popper was a passenger in a Mercedes pulled over on Wednesday night for driving 111 miles per hour in eastern Washington state. The car was registered in Popper's name.

After troopers arrested Brian Gourgeois, the driver, for reckless driving, they detected the smell of marijuana and arrested the singer for drug possession.

Troopers searched the Mercedes sports utility vehicle and found weapons stashed in hidden compartments within the car. The state patrol recovered a total of 14 weapons including four rifles, nine handguns and a switchblade knife.

"The sheer amount of weapons and the modifications to the vehicle are not something we see everyday," said Washington State Patrol spokesman Jeff Sevigney, who added that none of the guns were illegally acquired.

Popper is known to be a gun enthusiast and told troopers he was a collector of weapons. As the overweight frontman for Blues Traveler, Popper composed and played the harmonica in "Run-Around," a song that won a Grammy Award in 1996.

George Couri, a manager for Blues Traveler, said Popper was driving back to western Washington from Austin, Texas and likes to visit gun ranges during long car rides.

"All of the weapons he owns are registered and are transported safely in a legally approved, locked cabinet in his vehicle," Couri said in a statement.

The vehicle was equipped with flashing emergency lights, a siren and an external public address system. Troopers also found night vision goggles and a Taser inside the car.

"Popper indicated to troopers that he had installed these items in his vehicle because (in the event of a natural disaster) he didn't want to be left behind," the Washington State Patrol said.

Popper and Gourgeois will be charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Popper could also face federal charges for possessing a vehicle with hidden compartments.

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