GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. -- Gwinnett County police are warning about the dangers of a new synthetic pot-like drug called bath salts after seeing its effects first hand.
On June 14, they were called to the Atlanta Golf Center in Norcross after the owner and witnesses said a man weilding a club stripped off half his clothing, went swimming in a pond and ran off into the woods shouting jibberish.
Golfer Jeff Spruiell saw the entire incident.
"He wasn't even dressed to play golf. He was yelling 'I'm going to eat you. I don't want to eat you. Tupac. Four'. He was very aggressive," Spruiell said. "When officers arrived they told him repeatedly to stop where he was. I then heard him screaming."
Cpl. Jake Smith with the Gwinnett County Police Department said the suspect, 21-year-old Karl Laventure of Alpharetta, later told them he had smoked a joint with bath salts.
"He charged toward officers," saidSmith said. "They used pepper spray, but he just wiped it out of his eyes and kept coming. We then Tasered him a number of times, but each time the cycle ended, he would jump back up."
Eventually officers got Laventure cuffed and took him to the hospital where he had another outburst and had to be tasered several more times.
"We're learning bath salts make people incoherent, but also incredibly strong and aggressive," Cpl. Smith said. "It's a fine line when we encounter that. We want to do everything we can not to harm a suspect, but at the same time protect our officers and any bystanders."
Nationwide, there have been similar incidents of people high on bath salts. Video has been posted online of suspects half clothed or naked being combative and at the same time appearing to be in a zombie-like haze.
Drug agents have said bath salts are a growing problem for them. As they identify one version of the lab grown drug, it can be changed so that symptoms and behavior from it change, making it hard to identify.