Two young men arrested on multiple charges — including handgun theft — after Siesta Center tenant finds them unconscious

Sheriff’s Office links 15- and 19-year-olds to burglary cases and charges 19-year-old with drug possession

Siesta Center is on the north end of Siesta Village. Image from Google Maps

Siesta Village business owners were abuzz on July 7, The Sarasota News Leader learned, after a tenant at Siesta Center called 911 early in the morning to report two unconscious people at the shopping plaza in the heart of the Village.

Just after 8 a.m. on July 7, according to three related Sheriff’s Office reports, deputies were called about “two suspicious suspects sleeping on a bench at 5053 Ocean Blvd. in Sarasota.”

As it turned out, one of them was a 15-year-old Sarasota resident who later admitted to having been a lookout while the other one, a 19-year-old, allegedly broke into vehicles on the Key.

The younger one, Riley J. Willhite, was released to the Juvenile Justice program later that day, one Sheriff’s Office report said.

Willhite listed his address as 5730 Ashton Lakes Drive.

The older one — Noah T. Mason-Forke of Harrison, Ark., was still in jail on July 17 in connection with the armed theft of a handgun from a vehicle and three drug possession charges, plus one count of Resisting Arrest without Violence. Those charges stemmed just from what Sheriff’s Office personnel learned at Siesta Center, the reports indicated.

His bond on the handgun theft charge was set at $15,000, jail records said, while the total bond amounts for the drug charges was $2,500; the bond on the resisting arrest charge was set at $500.

A News Leader check of other Sheriff’s Office jail records for Mason-Forke found four charges of Unarmed Burglary of an Unoccupied Conveyance, with bond set at $7,500 each for a total of $30,000.

Mason-Forke’s arraignment on all charges was scheduled for Aug. 17, the records said.

Willhite was charged, as well, with Armed Burglary-Conveyance in the handgun case, a Sheriff’s Office report noted.

When Sheriff’s Office Deputy Tracy Ross first arrived at Siesta Center about 8:30 a.m., one report said, Ross found Willhite “sitting on a bench talking to a fireman.”

When Ross asked whether Willhite was OK, the report continued, “Willhite said he had too much alcohol to drink.” Nonetheless, the report added, “Willhite was able to answer questions and interact in an appropriate manner.”

Noah Mason-Forke. Photo courtesy Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office

Then a member of the EMS crew on the scene informed the deputy that another male was in the rescue unit. Ross entered the unit, where Ross found Mason-Forke on a gurney; two EMS personnel were talking to him. “A small Reebok bag” was between Mason-Forke’s legs, the report added.

“I recognized the male from previous contact and asked him his name,” the deputy wrote.

Mason-Forke told the deputy his name was Noah, but the deputy noted in the report that the suspect “had trouble saying his last name.” Therefore, the deputy asked if Mason-Forke had any identification in his bag, and Mason-Forke said he did. An EMS crew member handed the deputy the bag.

When Ross opened the bag, the report said, Ross “observed a wallet and two pistols.”

After learning that the male in the EMS unit was Noah T. Mason-Forke, Ross asked Mason-Forke if he and Willhite had taken any drugs and, if so, if whether either was on the verge of an overdose. Mason-Forke replied, “No,” the report added.

The deputy then secured the bag in the patrol vehicle, the report pointed out.

After the EMS crew let Mason-Forke out of the rescue unit, Ross escorted Mason-Forke to the patrol vehicle and asked him to have a seat. Mason-Forke “immediately took off running south,” the report said, so the deputy yelled, “Police! Stop!” and gave chase.

Moments later, after Mason-Forke was back in custody, the report added, Ross escorted Mason-Forke back to Ross’ patrol car. At that point, the report said, Mason-Forke asked whether he would be in trouble for possessing guns. “This statement was made without prompting or questioning by me,” Ross noted in the report.

Ross then arrested Mason-Forke for Resisting without Violence.

Guns and drugs

When Ross conducted a thorough search of the bag, Ross found a Makarov 9mm handgun, a silver Smith and Wesson 40-caliber handgun, an iPad “and illegal narcotics,” the report said. Ross also discovered “numerous items” with personal identification information from other individuals, including credit cards, Florida identification cards and merchant store membership cards, on Mason-Forke and in his wallet, the report noted.

At that point, Ross contacted the Sheriff’s Office’s Criminal Investigation Division, which took over the case.

An aerial map shows the 5000 block of Higel Avenue. Image from Google Maps

Ross had taken an earlier report — on July 6 — regarding the theft of two handguns from an address in the 5000 block of Higel Avenue, Ross noted in the report. That incident allegedly had occurred between July 3 and July 6.

After Ross contacted the victim in the alleged handgun theft case, the victim was able to confirm that the serial number on the Makarov located in Mason-Forke’s bag matched the serial number on the weapon the victim owned, the report added.

As for the narcotics: A search of Mason-Forke’s bag “revealed a baggie of Marijuana containing 12.2 grams,” the report noted, so the deputy also placed Mason-Forke under arrest for Possession of Marijuana under 20 grams.

Additionally, the deputy found nine and one-half pills, which were identified as 2 mg Xanax doses. Therefore, the deputy also charged Mason-Forke with Possession of a Controlled Substance.

Finally, a white powder in the bag was tested and found to be methamphetamine; the bag had 16 grams of that, the report said.

Thus, Mason-Forke was charged with another count of Possession of a Controlled Substance.

As a result of the Siesta Center incident, deputies also connected Willhite to multiple burglaries, a related report explained. During detectives’ interview with Willhite on July 7 — with his grandmother present, the report pointed out — “Willhite confessed to taking multiple fishing poles” from a boat that was parked in the driveway of a home on Avenida Leona. A resident at the address had provided the Sheriff’s Office with a description that matched Willhite, the report said.

The boat belonged to Ray’s Tire Pro, that report noted, adding that that business is owned by Jacob Petty.

Willhite also admitted, during questioning, that he had acted as a lookout for Mason-Forke as Mason-Forke “entered numerous vehicles on Siesta Key,” one of the Sheriff’s Office reports said. Willhite further confessed to taking part in some of the vehicle burglaries with Mason-Forke, the report added.

Willhite and his parents were “Cooperative” during the investigation, the report noted.