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Monday, May 16, 2022

Convicted felon crashes car into tree, arrested after deputy finds loaded gun

A 63-year-old convicted felon was arrested after a loaded gun was found near his vehicle during a traffic crash investigation.

On Friday, January 7 at around 8:30 a.m., a Florida Highway Patrol trooper responded to a traffic crash on NE 25th Avenue in Ocala.

A vehicle driven by Ocala resident Joe Thomas Mason had struck a tree earlier in the morning at around 6:45 a.m.

Joe Thomas Mason
Joe Thomas Mason

Upon arrival, the trooper observed a Chevrolet Tahoe with front end damage against a large tree. Mason was standing next to the vehicle.

According to the FHP incident report, marks were observed in the yard where the vehicle had traveled off the roadway toward the tree, and skid marks were on the roadway. The front airbag had deployed and small drops of blood were visible on the driver’s seat.

The trooper observed that Mason was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash since the seat belt was locked against the pillar and there was a shatter in the windshield where his head had collided with it.

The FHP report stated that Mason had indicators of possible impairment including bloodshot watery eyes, slurred speech, and he was unsteady on his feet.

Burn marks were visible on Mason’s right arm from the airbag deployment and a few small blood marks were on his arm and pants.

A Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputy was also on the scene and had located a firearm in a holster that was on the ground in front of the vehicle’s right rear tire.

The trooper spoke with two witnesses who saw Mason’s vehicle veer off the road and hit the tree. Both witnesses reported that Mason exited the vehicle, removed a gun from his waistband, and placed it near one of the rear tires.

The firearm that was recovered was identified as a Colt .380, and it was loaded with six rounds in the clip and one round in the chamber.

A criminal background check of Mason revealed that he had a prior felony conviction.

Mason was arrested and transported to Marion County Jail. He successfully performed voluntary field sobriety exercises, and it was determined that he was not under the influence.

Mason was released from the jail on $10,000 bond and he is facing a felony charge for possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.

A court date has been scheduled on Tuesday, February 8 at 9 a.m., according to jail records.