Last night, Spokane Police officers responded to several reports of people walking into the middle of streets, apparently hallucinating and possibly in the throes of a drug trip. At least one person is dead and others have been taken to the hospital.
A news release from the Spokane Police Department describes erratic, potentially drug-fueled individuals yelling at other people, at inanimate objects and at nothing at all. At this point, police either do not know, or will not say what type of drug or combination of drugs is responsible.
"The observed behavior is consistent with a stimulant; effected persons hallucinate, act in an unpredictable and sometimes violent manner," Officer Nick Briggs wrote in the Tuesday evening news release. "Some of the subjects have acted violently upon contact with police, and multiple persons have been transported to local hospitals for treatment."
Police are hesitant to say that these incidents are connected, "however the similarities in behavior and the truncated timeframe make it likely a common drug is responsible," Briggs writes. "The Spokane Police Department Drug Unit is aware of the situation and [is] attempting to ascertain the source and nature of the substance."
Public Information Officer John O'Brien declined to release any further details, such as the exact number of calls, their general location, the number of people taken to the hospital or whether any officers or citizens were injured.
"We are not providing information about the drug incident(s) right now," O'Brien writes in an email. "We have to do far more investigation to see where it leads us. This may all may be connected... or it may not. Too early to say."
Spokane Regional Health District health officer Dr. Bob Lutz released a statement encouraging those who are addicted to drugs to seek help and for those who witness erratic behavior or a potential overdose to call 911.
"Although we do not yet know what the substance involved in this fatality and increased need for law enforcement is, historically, with regard to stimulant overdoses, for instance methamphetamine, the number of deaths remains unacceptably high in Spokane County," Lutz's statement says.
He emphasizes that substance use is not a moral failure, but presents a complex public health issue that requires treatment and support services for people who are addicted.