- A mother was charged with trespassing two weeks ago after she started shouting at staff in a shop that sold ‘bath salts’
- These drugs can be sold legally in the US as long as they are not marked for human consumption
- In high doses, the chemicals can cause violent behaviour and terrifying hallucinations
into a rage and smashed up a shop that supplied legal ‘bath salts’ type drugs that put his son in hospital.
Justin Avery, 24, was taken to New York’s Samaritan Hospital after snorting a powder labelled ‘glass cleaner’ that his friends had called ‘fake cocaine’.
According to police reports, his father Dan then called the store where his son had paid $20 for the legal high and left a message saying: ‘You sold my kid bath salts and I’ll [expletive] kill you’.
Justin had never used any drug stronger than marijuana, he said, but snorted the glass cleaner for the first time one evening because he was upset and had heard it would give him a buzz.
But by 1.30am his heart was racing wildly, he was sweating heavily and his breathing had become so laboured he thought he would die.
Three days earlier, a friend of the 24-year-old’s had apparently called Avery Sr hallucinating, afraid that people were trying to kill him.
Justin said the friend had also used the so-called ‘glass cleaner’ bought at Tebb’s Headshop, according to syracuse.com.
Avery drove to Tebb’s, based in a little strip mall, carrying a miniature wooden baseball bat in his truck, as usual.
The slight 5’7″, 120-pound man then chased off waiting customers, screaming, ‘You need some bath salts?’
Shop worker Trevor Harding arrived and opened up, while Mr Avery went to his 2003 Ford Explorer and slid the bat into his trousers. He then went into Tebb’s and pretended to be one of the customers he had just chased away.
CRIMEWAVE TRIGGERED BY USERS HIGH ON LEGAL DRUG ‘BATH SALTS’
Bath salts are likely to be stimulant drugs such MPDV or ephedrine. The phrase does not refer to a single chemical, but instead to a range of synthetic drugs that can be sold legally in the US as long as they are not marked for human consumption – hence the misleading name.
In high doses, such drugs can cause violent and unpredictable behaviour, and terrifying hallucinations. Here are just a few of the recent crimes said to have been triggered by the dangerous drugs:
- ‘Miami Cannibal’ Rudy Eugene was thought to have taken bath salts before stripping and pouncing on a homeless man and chewing off his face. He was shot dead. Although he did not take bath salts, it is believed he influenced a number of later attacks.
- Brandon DeLeon, 21, allegedly tried to bite off a police officer’s hand after he was arrested for disturbing customers in a Miami fast food restaurant. He yelled at officers: ‘I’m going to eat you.’ The police report noted that he ‘growled and opened and closed his jaw like an animal.’
- Carl Jacquneaux, 43, allegedly bit a chunk out of his neighbour’s face while on the drug before going to another neighbour’s home in Scott, Louisiana and threatening him at knife point.
- Shane Shuyler, 40, allegedly stripped off and laid naked on a park bench in North Miami while under the influence of bath salts. He exposed himself to a three-year-old girl before chasing her and shouting lewd comments.
- Pamela McCarthy, 35, allegedly stripped naked and began choking and punching her son, four, in the street after taking bath salts. Police used a Taser to subdue her and she went into cardiac arrest and later died.
He asked for bath salts or glass cleaner, he recalled, and Harding put a round blue-and-orange package on the glass countertop.
He claims Harding then pulled out a magazine and opened it to a page that showed him how much glass cleaner to take.
‘That’s when I just went crazy,’ said Avery. He pulled the bat out of his pants and started swinging. He smashed the five-foot-long glass counter and a couple of glass ashtrays. Then he started flinging glass pipes from shelves at Harding.
‘Here’s a nice one,’ Avery remembers yelling as he threw the pipes. ‘Here’s another nice one.’
He chased Harding back and forth behind the counter and the pair grappled before Avery returned his bat to the car and gave Harding a lecture.
He said he told Harding: ‘You’re a sick man to sell this to these kids, knowing it’s gonna twist their minds. You’re pathetic.’
Then he asked Harding for the store phone and called the police to tell them what he had done.
After 10 to 15 minutes, police arrived and took him into custody. They charged him with two felonies – criminal mischief and criminal possession of a weapon – which carry a maximum prison sentence of seven years.
The police report says Avery threatened to kill Harding in the store. but Avery said he only intended to scare the clerk.
‘I wanted them to know why I did it,’ he said. ‘The cop asked me and I said, “So people will know. So other parents who don’t even know their kids can buy this type of drug will be aware.”
‘It sparked in my mind: It’s all over. I’ve lived my life for 30 years to do good, and tried to raise my kids to do good. But I couldn’t help it.’
He said he had thought about letting authorities handle it, but the law does not consider those products illegal.
The day after Avery’s violence, federal agents and local police raided Tebb’s and other head shops across the country. Agents seized the Watertown store’s supply of glass cleaner, among other products, Mr Harding said in an interview.
He said said the store did not sell bath salts because they’re illegal, and claimed the shop was being wrongly accused of peddling harmful drugs.
A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent filed an affidavit last week in Syracuse federal court to get a search warrant for the store raids. In it, he listed glass cleaners as one of the names drug sellers use to disguise ‘highly dangerous chemicals that are ingested by recreational drug users’ as a substitute for marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy and methamphetamine.
The raids follow months of horrific crimes by people disoriented by synthetic drugs.
Another frustrated parent, a mother in Batavia, was charged with trespassing two weeks ago after she tried to buy bath salts at a head shop there, then started yelling at employees.
Neither police nor prosecutors would comment on their plans for Avery.
‘We don’t want people acting as vigilantes,’ said police Sgt. Joe Donoghue.
Jefferson County District Attorney Cindy Intschert said prosecutors would consider many factors when evaluating the case, as they do in all others.
In his blog, Watertown Mayor Jeff Graham asked, ‘What juror votes to convict the guy for busting up a head shop that was selling bath salts to his 24-year-old son?’
Avery, who earns $2,400 a month setting up double-wide and modular homes, said he was worried about having enough money to hire a lawyer.
‘I was being a father,’ he added.