Man wearing clown mask arrested near University of South Florida campus

Benjamin Mason Starns. An arrest report states he is a transient from Cape Coral. Photo courtesy of WFLA

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – A 30-year-old Lee County, Florida man is facing drug and weapons charges following his arrest Saturday by deputies with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

Benjamin Mason Starns is facing one count of carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, one count of marijuana possession and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. He was booked into the Pinellas County Jail where he is being held on a bond of $450.

According to a PCSO arrest report officers were dispatched to the University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg campus in response to a man wearing a clown mask loitering the grounds. When deputies approached Starns he slid the mask off his face but failed to inform them that he had a weapon.

They discovered an expandable police baton hidden in the sleeve of his jacket. The suspect told the deputies that he carried the baton for protection.

Starns was also found to be in possession of 20 grams of marijuana and a ‘grinder.’

His arrest report lists Cape Coral as his hometown where he had two previous arrests on loitering and prowling charges.