The noise, he says, was that of a battering ram crashing into his front door, slamming it open.
In seconds, a dozen men wearing black masks over their faces had invaded the 1,200-square-foot home in a quiet working-class neighborhood.
“They were dressed like ninjas,” Underwood told Gossip Extra in his first interview since the incident. “They were wearing masks with only their eyes showing. Each was armed with either a shotgun or a rifle. There was a dog. There was a lot of shouting.”
In time Underwood — who lost interest in acting after the Nickelodeon show with Jamie Lynn Spears and Victorious‘ Victoria Justice ended in 2008 — says the “ninjas” had him and another man, his chauffeur, on the ground and in handcuffs.
In time, the 22-year-old Underwood understood the dawn raid was conducted by Port St. Lucie Police armed with a drug-related search warrant.
If you believe Underwood, however, the raid will end up being the agency’s biggest embarrassment in years.
“They opened drawers, flipped the contents on the floors,” Underwood said last night in his home, “flipped up the mattresses and the kitchenware, the couches, boxes in the garage, they just turned the house upside down. They made a real mess. They kept asking: ‘Where are the drugs? Where’s the coke?’”
Coke? There wasn’t any!
Heroin? Even less!
Pot? About one gram, mostly in ashes!
In the end, the fuzz left with nine hookahs, Arabian water pipes that Underwood had in his house because he is about to open a hookah-smoking lounge! Cops also seized about eight pounds of shisha, the flavored tobacco used in hookahs.
In hookahs, says Underwood, lies the reason for the raid, and his and his 24-year-old chauffeur Ryan Runyon‘s arrests for possession of less than 20 grams of pot, possession of drug paraphernalia and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Underwood’s 17-year-old girlfriend was at the house when cops arrived.
“The city just doesn’t want me to open a hookah lounge,” Underwood says. “They spent thousands of dollars on this raid because they want to scare me. I finally received a permit to open my lounge (at 1730 SW Bayshore Blvd) on Thursday, after going through a six-month permitting process. And a day later, they have me arrested?
“Not only am I staying. Not only am I opening the lounge Saturday. But now, I’m suing the city and the police department!”
Police spokesman Tom Nichols said he wasn’t at the raid but doubted that the photos accurately reflected what took place.
“We conduct search warrants with respect,” Nichols said. “How do we know that they (Underwood and Runyon) didn’t take pictures that make it look worse?”