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Man with handgun, mask charged after traffic stop

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Highland Township — Investigators are trying to determine what a 21-year-old Waterford Township man questioned in an early morning traffic stop this week was doing with an illegal license plate, an unloaded handgun, a mask, stylish ski goggles and plastic ties often used as handcuffs.

Noah Syl Johnson was pulled over on a traffic violation at Hickory Ridge and M-59 at 4:15 a.m. Tuesday. The vehicle Johnson was driving, a gold GEO Metro, displayed an improper plate that came back “No Record” when run by an Oakland County Sheriff’s deputy.

“It all looks pretty ominous and deputies maybe stopped some kind of home invasion or burglary before it could happen,” Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said.

“A mask and other items could be used to conceal someone’s identity. Zip-ties have been known to frequently be used to tie up victims. The gloves and plastic bag might be helpful in packing up valuables. And then there’s the handgun.

“It appears he intended to do something but he’s not talking. I would hope an employer or someone who knows him or where he might have been headed in Livingston County would come forward and talk to us.”

According to a preliminary report, Johnson was “slow to stop” in Highland Township and when the deputy approached the vehicle Johnson told him his license was suspended and he was on probation.

The deputy became concerned when Johnson, still seated in the GEO, kept reaching under the seat during the conversation and had to be ordered to keep his hands on the steering wheel.

Johnson was initially arrested for driving on a suspended license and an improper plate. A search of the vehicle revealed an unloaded, unregistered semi-automatic handgun under the front driver’s seat where the deputy observed Johnson reaching during the stop.

Elsewhere in the vehicle, deputies found two pairs of Nike gym shoes; two pairs of black gloves; one pair of Gucci goggles; a green knit hat with two small eyeholes cut out; one grey fleece and three black sweat shirts; six zip-ties in an open plastic bag; two cell phones and one large black empty trash bag in the back seat.

A valid license plate belonging to the vehicle was in the backseat and the driver’s iPhone indicated Johnson was using his phone as a GPS to go south on U.S. 23 from M-59 into Livingston County.

Johnson refused to talk with detectives and was held in the Oakland County Jail on charges of carrying a concealed weapon, driving on a suspended license and an improper plate. The charges are felonies that can carry up to five years in prison.

The phones have since been turned over to the sheriff’s computer crimes unit and search warrants have been obtained for both devices.

On Wednesday, Johnson was arraigned in Novi District Court. He posted $25,000 surety bond Thursday and was released from jail.

The matter remains under investigation and investigators are sharing information with other police agencies, Bouchard said.

Johnson is awaiting sentence for fleeing and eluding and reckless charging in an unrelated case in Oakland Circuit Court. He has a prior resisting arrest charge out of Big Rapids.

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