7 overdose after taking free heroin
April 14, 2006 (WLS) -- Seven people remain hospitalized after overdosing on heroin on Chicago's West Side. The victims were given free samples, according to police, and became ill after taking them.
Paramedics removed the seven unconscious victims from the corner of Cermak and Keeler as police and firefighters searched nearby buildings and alleys for others who also may have used the free heroin that was passed out around noon. The seven people who became sick are hospitalized. The Chicago Police Department passed out fliers warning people in the area about the bad batch of heroin.
"Our biggest concern now is that if there are other victims somewhere we're going to start passing out flyers in and around the neighborhood and expanding it from this location," said Capt. Fred Conant, Chicago Police Dept.
Investigators believe the dealer was trying to impress potential customers with his product's purity-- but the dope was so strong it caused at least some of the users to overdose in the street. Booker Winston--who said he has used heroin for years--says such promotions are not unusual.
"It's like advertising. It's like a TV commercial. Word hits the street and everybody will be there looking for it," said Winston.
Neighbors were not surprised by what happened. They said the corner is an open-air drug market and police should pay more attention.
"I think this community should put in a police surveillance camera to clean the place up," said Melanie Free, neighborhood resident.
Police said they are looking for a suspected drug dealer who lives only a few blocks from Keeler and Cermak. Winston said from his experience, heroin addicts are also looking for him.
"Yes sir, yes sir... I was a junkie at one time, sir, and if I heard somebody had fire that somebody fell dead from I want some of that," said Winston.
Police have issued a pickup order for a suspect, but prosecuting him could be difficult if the drug addicts don't testify against him. Police said addicts usually don't.
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