Lost Uber driver arrested on gun, drugged driving charges

Recorder Staff
Monday, May 02, 2016

ATHOL — A Waltham man faces multiple charges after setting out in the wrong direction to collect a fare through the smartphone-based “ride sharing” taxi service Uber, allegedly too high to drive and with an unlicensed pistol in the trunk on Sunday.

Karnell R. Shanklin, 25, pleaded innocent Monday in Orange District Court to charges of driving under the influence of drugs, negligent driving, marked lanes violation, and carrying a firearm and ammunition without a license.

According to the report filed by Trooper Arthur Saco assigned to the Athol state police barracks, a caller reported an erratic driver westbound on Route 2 Sunday at 1:45 p.m. The caller followed the white Camry, reporting that it struck reflective posts in the median, and three troopers responded to find the car pulled to the side of Route 32 in Athol.

Police reported the odor of burnt marijuana about 10 feet from the car. The driver, Shanklin, allegedly told police he was an Uber driver on the way from Fitchburg to Worcester to pick up a fare. Shanklin allegedly told police he believed it was about 9:30 to 10 a.m., and that he was in Fitchburg. The time was 1:40 p.m. and he was in Athol. Athol is directly west of Fitchburg, Worcester directly south.

Based on the results of three field sobriety tests, police arrested Shanklin. While inventorying the driverless car, police allegedly found a .22 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver, 49 rounds of .22 caliber ammunition, two smartphones, a scale, a hand-rolled cigarette with a leafy green substance and three zip bags with a combined 57 grams of a leafy green substance.

Shanklin allegedly told police that the marijuana was his, and that he had smoked about 13 grams of it that day, but that he had no knowledge of the gun.

Shanklin allegedly told police two family members had access to the car, and that while smoking with friends in Fitchburg that day, a friend had asked to put something in his trunk. Shanklin allegedly told police he allowed it without knowing what it was, then left early to pick up an Uber fare in Worcester.

Police originally included a drug possession and dealing charge when arresting Shanklin, but it did not appear in arraignment paperwork. The volume of supposed marijuana, 57 grams, is double the 1 ounce maximum for a civil rather than criminal penalty.

Judge David Ross released Shanklin with the condition that he remain drug-free, subject to screens. His next court date is June 6.

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