By Brian Livingston / firstname.lastname@example.org
When a Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department deputy turned the corner from 25th Avenue onto Front Street early Thursday morning, he was met with a slightly out of ordinary picture.
Standing at the back of a blue van was a man trying to load a carousel horse from in front of Downtown Properties Inc. When the deputy stopped and approached the man he asked the man, "What are you doing?"
Allegedly somewhat inebriated and reportedly caught red-handed at almost 2 a.m. with a large plastic horse, the man was said to have replied, "Well, this is awkward."
Jesse Lawrence Hetland, 24, was taken into custody and initially charged with grand larceny, public drunk, public profanity and disorderly conduct. Zachary Ryan Moorer, 29, an acquaintance of Hetland, drove up minutes later and was arrested for public drunk.
"Two other individuals who were in the van were not charged in this incident," said Casey McElhenney, commander of the LCSD's Criminal Investigation Division. "Also, the charge of grand larceny was dropped Thursday afternoon against Hetland, so his only offenses were those related to his apparent intoxication."
This is the second time in as many years the carousel horse at the 25th Avenue location has been the target of attempted theft. Last year the horse was taken and placed in an apartment nearby. A suspect was arrested and charged in that incident but McElhenney said officials with Downtown Properties chose not to press a grand larceny charge.
"Several of our investigators have returned the horse to its rightful place on Front Street," said McElhenney. "Hopefully people will just look at it and not want to take it home with them."