MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — Sheriff’s deputies were called to Kokomo Lane in Martin County, Florida, on Monday evening because a neighbor told 911 he’d been stabbed trying to break up a fight.
CBS Tampa affiliate WPEC reports that when the first deputy arrived, the sheriff said she had found a man on top of another one in a driveway, biting his face.
The sheriff said the suspect was removing the victim’s flesh with his teeth. Eventually, multiple deputies and a K-9 pounced, trying to remove the suspect from the prone man on the ground. They used a stun gun, but only after use of great force from every law enforcement officer available could they remove him.
The victim was pronounced dead at the scene. His wife was found dead as well inside the garage of their home.
The age and identity of the victims and suspect has not been provided. The sheriff would only say the suspect and the deceased couple knew each other.
The Good Samaritan who called 911 and tried to rescue his neighbor suffered substantial injuries, WPEC reports. He was airlifted to St. Mary’s Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery. His condition is not known at this time.
The suspect was also taken to St. Mary’s, where he is undergoing treatment. His motive is not known at this time.
“When we see a case like this, when someone is biting off pieces of somebody’s face, could it be flakka, the answer is it absolutely could be flakka case, we don’t know,” Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said, according to CBS Miami.
Flakka is a designer drug that can be snorted, smoked, injected or swallowed, and has been seen in a large number of cases of bizarre and uncontrollable behavior in Florida in the past year.
Flakka is most typically made from the chemical alpha-PVP, which is a synthetic version of the amphetamine-like stimulant cathinone. Cathinones are chemicals derived from the khat plant grown in the Middle East and Somalia, where the leaves are frequently chewed for a euphoric buzz.
It’s the same class of chemical that’s used to make so-called bath salts, a drug that was found to be behind a number of alarming incidents, including the case of a man in Miami who allegedly chewed another man’s face while high on bath salts in 2012.
The immediate and long-term effects of cathinones can rival some of the strongest crystal meth and cocaine.
Sheriff Snyder said of the Martin County case: “It will be some time before we get any kind of toxicology report, but I would not be surprised, though, if we end up finding out that is the case.”