He said he was scouting berries late at night. Then a cop looked in his truck.

Donald Ray Baker
Donald Ray Baker

Early Friday morning, around 2 a.m., a deputy from the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office on routine patrol in Vero Beach saw something out of the ordinary outside a closed business.

According to a police report, the officer saw a tan Chevrolet pickup truck outside Estate Treasures. The store had shut for the night hours ago and the parking lot was dark.

After pulling up behind the truck, the officer made contact with the driver, later identified as Donald Ray Baker, who said he was there to meet a guy named “Bert,” to scout out places to pick (saw) palmetto berries. But when further pressed about Bert’s address, last name and phone number, Baker could not give details, just saying this person lived in some woods nearby.

A passenger in Baker’s car, who identified herself as Rose Raspberry, corroborated the driver’s story, about meeting a man named Bert, and added that they were going to meet him near a bear statue at Safari Golf and Games entertainment center, which was nearby, and also closed.

The deputy ran Baker’s license, and found it had been revoked since 1991. Looking inside the car, the officer wrote that he could see the “push rod and tube of a syringe” lying in the bed of the truck, as well as ripped up cotton swabs, “consistent with that of intravenous drug usage.”

He then told Baker he would be searching the vehicle, where he soon found a black pouch with a spoon sticking out. There was also a carton of 305 brand cigarettes that contained a plastic baggie with 0.6 grams of “a clear, crystalline substance,” that later tested positive to be methamphetamine.

Baker denied knowing that those items were in his car, and said they belonged to his passenger, even though the suspect admitted to “sometimes” shooting up. Raspberry also claimed she was unaware meth was in the carton of cigarettes.

The suspect briefly tried to flee while the deputy was getting the handcuffs out, but was “quickly apprehended” and arrested. The 47 year old was charged with possession, driving with a revoked license, resisting arrest and transported to the Indian River County Jail.

Baker’s profession on the arrest affidavit was listed as “homeless.” He is currently incarcerated on $8,000 bond.

Raspberry was not detained.