Substance at vape shop hospitalizes five

News
Photos courtesy of the Pickens County Sheriff's Office

Jasper, Ga – Authorities have met a major incident as they executed a search warrant at the local A1 Smoke Shop in Jasper, Georgia.

During the execution of the search warrant today, September 14, members of the Drug Task Force, Pickens Sheriff’s Office, and Jasper City Police were exposed to an unidentified substance that immediately brought down one detective. Others also became exposed in attempts to help treat the detective. According to an official release by Sgt. Jody Weaver, Administrative Services Division of the Pickens Sheriff’s Office, “As of this release, two Detectives, a DTF Agent and two EMS personnel are being treated now for symptoms.”

Photos courtesy of the Pickens County Sheriff's Office

Photos courtesy of the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office

Unconfirmed reports indicate the substance may have been made airborne during the search, but reports at this time indicate the exposure is not life-threatening.

According to their official release, “The Cherokee County Hazardous Materials Team has dispatched to the scene to assist, along with all surrounding public safety agencies including the Pickens Fire & EMS and City of Jasper Fire.”

Additionally, authorities have closed businesses in close proximity to the location and evacuated citizens from the area for safety.

With Haz-Mat teams investigating the substances, authorities are declining to release certain details of the active investigation, but indicate that they will be releasing more information about the incident later.

With the recent rise of vaping devices being used to inhale drugs ranging from Methamphetamines to THC Oil to Synthetic Marijuana, it is likely this warrant could be part of an official response to the trend in our schools, though no official statement identifies why they were executing a search warrant. The District Attorney’s office is currently undertaking a series of assemblies at the middle and high schools of Pickens, Fannin, and Gilmer.

At this point, it is actually quite common to find controlled substances in vape devices across America, especially in schools as reports continue to flood the media about students falling unconscious or having severe reactions, even seizures because of what they may or may not know they are inhaling.

See the full media release below:

“Pickens County law enforcement have encountered a suspected unknown powder substance during execution of a search warrant – Deputies and other public safety adversely affected.”

On the morning of Friday, September 14, 2018, the Drug Task Force, along with the Pickens Sheriff’s Office and the City of Jasper Police Department executed a search warrant at the A-1 Smoke Shop located at 684 West Church Street in Jasper, Georgia. During the search of the premises, a Detective with the Pickens Sheriff’s Office came in contact with an unknown substance which immediately resulted in the Detective experiencing adverse health conditions and symptoms. The affected Detective was transported to the local hospital for immediate treatment. Public safety personnel who were exposed while treating the affected Detective also began experiencing similar reactions. As of this release, two Detectives, a DTF Agent and two EMS personnel are being treated now for symptoms.

The Cherokee County Hazardous Materials Team has dispatched to the scene to assist, along with all surrounding public safety agencies including the Pickens Fire & EMS and City of Jasper Fire. Businesses in close proximity to the location have been evacuated as a safety precaution, and Haz-Mat teams are preparing to enter the premises to thoroughly investigate and identify the cause of the health issues with our public safety personnel.

As this is an active investigation, more information will be provided as it becomes available.

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PHS lockdown and what’s next in the Vaping Campaign

News

Jasper, Ga – The Pickens County Board of Education hosted a no-threat lockdown today on the campus of Pickens High School.

Parents and citizens saw the Pickens County Sheriff respond to concerns saying:

We currently have a team of deputies and K-9 units participating in a controlled sweep of the Pickens High School campus. While the school is being checked, students are being placed in a non-emergency lockdown status. Students are safe and no threat exists at the school.

When questioned about the lockdown, Pickens County Schools Superintendent Dr. Carlton Wilson said the K-9 sweep was scheduled for a few weeks ago, but had to be pushed back due to scheduling conflicts with Cherokee County who supplies the K-9 units. As the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office has retired its last K-9 unit for medical reasons, Wilson stated it is a part of the agreement with Cherokee County to utilize theirs.

With the lockdown and sweep completed, Wilson informed FYN that no drugs were located during the sweep today. Though he noted it was not directly related to the rising use of vape devices, Wilson did respond to questions about the trend saying that it is a concern in the school system.

Sweeps like this is a part of the school’s enforcement of its code of conduct as well as state and federal law. Though Wilson said there is more going on behind the scenes in the system’s response to the rising vape concerns and to school security in general, he declined to release details saying, “There is a number of things that we are doing and things that we are working with the Sheriff’s Office, some of that we just can’t publicize at the moment.”

More information on these steps like the K-9 sweeps and other programs the school already has in place over its years in operation can be found at the upcoming Monday, September 24, day of events involving the Office of the Sheriff, the District Attorney, and Pickens School district as they hold a meeting for parents for information and the ‘Chat with the Superintendent’ at Pickens High School at 6 p.m.

Wilson went on to note that the school system is being forced to change the way it views vaping devices. While he notes that it is against the law for underage kids to possess cigarettes and vaping devices and they have enforced the law, he did state that the school system may have, at times, not utilized the most extreme forms of discipline available in every situation involving the use of nicotine. He went on to say, “Now that this added ability of being able to vape just about anything, that brings it to a whole different level.”

As part of the school’s efforts to inform parents and students about the dangers that vapes present with not knowing what is in them, the board is working with the District Attorney and the Sheriff’s Office. Wilson said, “We may have looked at vaping in the past as more of a replacement for a cigarette, and not as a delivery device for drugs… Going forward, we probably would.”

He added later, “We’re going to have to really start disciplining to the fullest extent that we can, given to us by our Code of Conduct or either by the Law to keep our children safe.”

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Drug Task Force Officer Arrested

News

Jasper, Ga. – The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office has arrested and released reports for warrants and booking for one Charles Daniel Hamrick.

According to the Arrest Warrant, Hamrick is accused of using his position as a peace officer to convince a person to send nude and semi-nude photos to him. The offense violates his oath as a public officer.

The warrant alleges that Hamrick convinced a lady that she was a confidential informant for him and that she could have potential criminal charges brought against her. He then allegedly told her that he had destroyed her confidential informant file in return for the photos.

Having been arrested and booked on the charges, Hamrick has since paid a $1,000 bond and been released. As the official charge states Violation of Oath by Public Officer, it is charged as “a violation of the Oath taken by Hamrick as a Deputy with the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office and the Deputy Commander of the Zell Miller Mountain Parkway Drug Task Force…”

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Fannin Sheriff comments on county threat

News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Responding to a threat inside the county from earlier today, the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office has officially confirmed that despite rumors around the county, there is not an active shooter threat at this time. Their official statement is as follows:

There is NO active shooter in the county. We are, however, actively pursuing a suspect from a domestic threat earlier this morning who also has active felony warrants out of neighboring counties. Law Enforcement Agencies from surrounding counties have also come to assist. Please rest assured all children at the rec center are safe. They took their Tuesday field trip as planned.Unfortunately, we are unable to provide any more information at this time. We will provide information as it is available.

The Sheriff’s Office has asserted that all the children are safe and FYN will offer updates when possible. An earlier post from the Sheriff’s faceboook pages states that the children will be transfered to Fannin County Middle School at 2:30 p.m.

UPDATE: The Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that the suspect is in custody at this time.

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Hunter Hill visits Ellijay

Election 2018

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Continuing his campaign for Governor, Hunter Hill made a stop in Ellijay on May 2 to speak with local citizens about his plans for the office if elected.

Hill spoke to local citizens over breakfast at Mike’s Ellijay Restaurant on Highway 282.

Arriving at 8 a.m., Governor Candidate Hunter Hill steps off his bus to meet citizens at Mike's Ellijay Restaurant.

Arriving at 8 a.m., Governor Candidate Hunter Hill steps off his bus to meet citizens at Mike’s Ellijay Restaurant.

Hill is a former Army Ranger who has been in the State Senate for five years now. After resigning his seat in August to run for Governor, Hill has been focusing on his vision for Georgia and spreading that message to rally voters. Today, he spoke with citizens in Ellijay about the ideals for “less government, less taxes, and more freedom.”

With “career politicians,” as Hill noted, in office, it is an undermining of our values as a nation. He called out those politicians saying they were not even willing to risk their next election to uphold their oath.

Focusing more specifically on the recent issue of sanctuary cities. Adamantly against the topic, Hill said, “If a city or county in this state were to claim itself a sanctuary city, they would not receive a nickel of state funding.”

After his speech, Hunter Hill paused to answer questions from citizens attending his breakfast meet and greet.

After his speech, Hunter Hill paused to answer questions from citizens attending his breakfast meet and greet.

His second point on his vision for the office reiterated his opinions and intention to eliminate the state income tax. With bordering states already without an income tax, the competitive disadvantage is hurting our state, according to Hill. He went on to say replacing the income tax with a consumption tax setup would alleviate the tax burden from honest Georgians and redistribute that to everyone including visitors to the state and even those making money in illegal ways. Hill stated, “A broad-based consumption tax allows us to have more people that we’re bringing money in from, which allows us to do so at lower rates.”

On a personal note, Hill mentioned his faith pushed him to focus not only on the points of pro-life, pro-second amendment, and also religious liberty. FYN asked Hill if he would be seeking a “Faith Restoration Act” in his first year to which he replied, “Very good chance of that, yeah.”

Hill did confirm that he wanted to pursue faith-based adoption as a part of it saying, “We’ve got to protect our faith-based adoption agencies. We’ve just got to do it. A lot of the reasons that faith-based adoption agencies get involved is to be helpful in congruence with their faith. If you don’t protect their ability to do it in congruence with their faith, then they will just stop doing it altogether.”

 

Meeting with Gilmer residents for breakfast allowed Hunter Hill a chance to meet and speak with local citizens about issues and his vision for the Governor's Office.

Meeting with Gilmer residents for breakfast allowed Hunter Hill a chance to meet and speak with local citizens about issues and his vision for the Governor’s Office.

Protecting people of faith and their ability to live and work based on that faith was a focus of Hill’s speech about the governor’s office, but also on his words about his future view of the state. He noted after winning on key policy issues aligned with our values and principals, he wanted to remind senators and house members of the values and principals that they were elected for, providing a singular vision to move forward under.

 

“Fighting for the people of Georgia” is what he says his focus is as Hill says he sees polls with him ahead of Kemp and closing in on Cagle. Separating himself, Hill says he’s not the career politician like Cagle and is very different than Kemp on issues like the income tax and limited government. But when comparing, Hill said he wanted to focus on his campaign and his vision to protect liberties and endorsements like the Georgia Right to Life to be a different candidate.

While most of those present were already Hill supporters like retired Gilmer county citizen, George Winn, who said he’s been a Hill supporter “all the way.” Based upon his stances as a military, Christian conservative who is a believable and trustworthy conservative.

Others like Ken Bailey find themselves supporting Hill as the best candidate. Following the campaign because “Hunter is not a politician. He is a fresh, young face and not a part of the established system, which needs to be broken up I think. I think he’s got good ideas. We don’t need to have a state income tax, that puts a handicap on us.” Bailey went on to say that he liked some of the other candidates and even knew some personally, but felt Hill was the best choice.

He also commented his appreciation of the choice in the election. With fine candidates available, Bailey said its great to not have to pick the best of a bad selection.

Hill continues his bus tour across Georgia with his final stop at the Cobb GOP Headquarters in Marietta on Saturday afternoon, May 2.

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