Snohomish musician had permits for guns found in traffic stop

SPOKANE – Blues Traveler singer and harmonica player John Popper is an avid gun collector who likes stopping at shooting ranges when he is traveling and that’s why he had weapons in his vehicle when he was stopped by the State Patrol, his manager said Thursday.

Popper and another person were arrested by the Washington State Patrol in a speeding vehicle on Tuesday near Ritzville. Officers said they found a cache of weapons and a small amount of marijuana in the vehicle.

The two men were booked into the Adams County Jail and then released. No charges have been filed.

“Since January, John has been in Austin, Texas, recording an acoustic album of the band’s greatest hits and was driving home from Austin to western Washington when the car was pulled over,” said a statement from George Couri, manager for Popper and the band.

“He is an avid gun collector and when he takes long trips, he likes to visit shooting ranges,” Couri said.

All the weapons in the vehicle are registered and transported in a locked cabinet, Couri said.

“He was a passenger in the vehicle when it was stopped and he complied completely with local police,” Couri said.

Popper, 39, was arrested Tuesday afternoon on I-90 near the Spokane-Lincoln county line, when the black Mercedes-Benz SUV he was riding in was clocked going 111 mph, the Washington State Patrol said.

Popper, who lives in Snohomish, is the owner of the vehicle, which was being driven by Brian Gourgeois, 34, of Austin, Texas, said State Patrol trooper Jeff Sevigney.

Gourgeois was placed under arrest for reckless driving and, after troopers reportedly smelled marijuana, Popper was arrested for drug possession, the Patrol said.

Authorities plan to charge them with possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Gourgeois will also face a charge of reckless driving, the Patrol said.

Inside the vehicle were four rifles, nine handguns and a switchblade knife. They also found a stun gun and night vision goggles.

The vehicle also had flashing emergency headlights, a siren and a public address system, the Patrol said.

Officers also recovered a small amount of marijuana and a marijuana pipe. The vehicle was seized.

Popper achieved fame as a harmonica player and frontman for Blues Traveler. The band won a Grammy award in 1996 for the song “Run-around,” which Popper composed.

Popper recently formed a group called The John Popper Project with DJ Logic, which released an album in 2006 and is scheduled to go on the road later this month.

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