Mass. LEO hospitalized after suspect spreads fentanyl in station during booking

The officer held his breath and pulled the suspect and other LEOs in the room outside for fresh air, which probably saved lives

Taylor Pettaway
Boston Herald

METHUEN, Mass. — A Methuen man is being held without bail after cops fear he released a bag of fentanyl inside the Methuen Police Department, hospitalizing an officer.

Kyle Dennis, 28, was being booked Wednesday night when he ripped a baggie from his groin area — that officials believe contained the deadly drug fentanyl — and spread it across the room as an officer was processing Dennis. Chief Joseph Solomon said Officer Patrick Waldron immediately held his breath and pulled Dennis and the other officers in the room outside to fresh air, which is probably what saved his life.

“Thank God (Waldron) didn’t have a different reaction; he did the right thing and did everything he should have so I give him a lot of credit for that,” Solomon said.

“Pat is one of our great officers, he cares above all else about people and it was evident here. His concern was about getting the guy and the other two officers out first,” Solomon added.

Waldron, a decorated cop credited with saving a 64-year-old’s life last year, told Solomon “My main concern was to make sure everyone was safe, and it took about a half-hour afterward before I was concerned about me.”

Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and if ingested can cause respiratory arrest leading to death. Risk of exposure for first responders has increased in recent years with the drug’s wider use.

“It brings a new reality, that we can get complacent of the dangers of this job,” Solomon said. “Especially in booking, you can expect someone to pull out a knife or a needle and you are trained on that but there is no training for this. We talk about it, but the response is about pure instinct.”

Cleaning fentanyl is a specialized process, and the department had to bring in a company to decontaminate the men and the room.

The cellblock was shut down for more than four hours while crews cleaned the booking area and corridor and any clothing; Waldron’s uniform had to be incinerated. Suspects requiring booking during that time were taken to Lawrence.

Waldron and Dennis were immediately taken to the hospital, where they were later released. But, Solomon said the drug not only poses a physical danger but a psychological one too — there was still a worry that Waldron hadn’t been completely decontaminated and could bring the deadly powder back to his family.

“He’s doing good, but definitely still nervous and apprehensive,” Solomon said. “He’s shaken up by what could have happened.”

Dennis was arraigned Thursday morning under charges of possession of a class A substance, hindering a police investigation, giving a false name to police, defacement of property and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. He was originally arrested for a number of warrants including possession of a stolen vehicle and possession of a firearm.


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