On Special Assignment

Feb 7, 2013 8:32 PM by Tara Oster - KAJ News

Dangerous "bath salts" hitting the Flathead

KALISPELL - The nickname "bath salts" is deceptively innocent for a drug. It's not getting high off Epsom salts: It's a sinister, relatively new designer drug called MDPV.

Bath salts hit the Kalispell community hard in August of 2011.

"Bath salts came to our attention primarily during the Bryson Connolly case when we arrested him after he fired rounds at one of our deputies," said Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry.

"We'd been aware of them before, we'd certainly heard about them; had a little contact with them with the drug task force, but that was the first big incident that really brought them to the forefront for us," he explained.

"My client had been taking bath salts, MDPV, for several months," Connolly's defense attorney Jack Quatman told us. "He'd become horribly addicted to it. It was legal at the time. You could get it on the internet."

Bryson Connolly, then 19, took MDPV the day before and the day of the shooting which happened just off Airport Road on Kacu Lane, where Deputy Roger Schiff tried to get Connolly to pull over his vehicle in relation to a disturbance call earlier that day.

Connolly got out of his car and shot at Deputy Schiff multiple times, but fortunately the deputy wasn't hurt and Connolly was arrested later that night.

"Sometimes people will tell you they don't remember, but he not only told me he didn't remember; he had no memory. He couldn't fill in the pieces no matter how hard I tried," Quatman said.

Many other users have also reported memory loss.

Director of Drug Information Service at UM Skaggs School of Pharmacy Sherrill Brown says MDPV is similar to methamphetamine and ecstasy. It stimulates the central nervous system.

"If you think about what amphetamine does, it's that fight or flight stimulation, so think about that and just take it further," Brown said.

The drug can also cause violent behavior, vivid hallucinations, and paranoia. The list goes on.

Like many synthetic drugs, Brown told us the effects range so widely because there's no regulation.

"So you never know what type of dose you're getting. You also never know if it's pure or if it has something else mixed in with it so that can either make your effects worse or counteract them or add totally different effects so it's really hard to say," she said.

Local law enforcement aren't expecting bath salts to sweep the county.

"As you're aware, anytime they outlaw one sort of new designer drug, a new one pops up with just a slightly different chemical makeup. Really we've seen kind of a down swing in bath salts here locally," Curry stated.

Quatman agreed he doesn't see MDPV holding much ground in the Flathead.

"I don't think it's going to take over the criminal justice system such as crack cocaine or heroin or things of that sort," he said.

However many still feel the effects of August 2011. Deputy Schiff and his family will never forget that day,a nd on the other side, Connolly's family will never be the same.

"It's a shame because it affects your family, it affects everybody around you," Quatman said.

Bryson Connelly is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence. He'll be nearly 30 years old when he'd eligible for release.

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