OCEAN CITY – A veteran
Ocean City police officer and three public safety assistants were taken to the
hospital with various symptoms last week after becoming sickened by a strong narcotic
stashed in a detained prisoner’s purse.
Around 10:45 p.m. last
Tuesday, a female prisoner detained in the Public Safety Building’s holding
cells after an earlier arrest on possession of marijuana charges requested
telephone numbers from her cell phone, which had been secured in a property
locker in control room B. At the request of the detainee, identified as Leslie
Veronica Simpson, 40, of Washington, D.C, Public Safety Assistant (PSA) Daniel
Bush opened the suspect’s property bag to look for her cell phone when he
discovered several amber vials with suspected controlled dangerous substances
inside, along with small quantities of loose marijuana.
Bush notified full-time
PSA Robert Lomax about the discovery, who, in turn notified Detective Vicki
Martin, who responded to the control room to see what had been discovered.
According to Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) reports, Lomax handed Martin a
clear vial containing suspected marijuana. Inside the vial with the marijuana
was an unknown liquid. Also discovered in Simpson’s purse were various vials
and pouches of suspected marijuana. In one of the vials, Martin noticed the
marijuana appeared to be wet.
Lomax then handed Martin
another plastic pouch with the word “blunt” written on it, but when Martin opened
the pouch, she was immediately overcome by a severe chemical odor, according to
police reports. The OCPD officer began to get dizzy and ordered Lomax and Bush,
along with another female PSA who was not involved in the search of Simpson’s
purse, out of the room.
As she turned, Martin
fell into a chair, but managed to leave the control room and close the door.
Martin, Lomax, Bush and the other PSA, Anna Fischer, each began to feel
light-headed and dizzy and complained of burning eyes, racing heart rates and
feelings of being shaky.
Because of the symptoms,
Emergency Services were requested and responded to the Public Safety Building.
An on-site examination revealed elevated blood pressure rates for each of the
personnel affected and they were all transported by ambulance to Atlantic
General Hospital, where they were treated and later released.
Because of the possible
contamination, the Ocean City Fire Marshal’s Office responded to what was
deemed a possible hazardous material, or Hazmat, incident shortly before
midnight. One prisoner housed in close proximity to the affected control room
was relocated to an interview room outside the booking area and a remaining PSA
was left behind to guard the female detainee.
decontamination and examination of Simpson’s purse, its contents and the
control room, all OCPD bookings were relocated to the impound lot in the rear
of the Public Safety Building.
Deputy Fire Marshal
Joshua Bunting interviewed Simpson in an effort to learn what the chemical or
chemicals were that made the four department members sick, but she refused to
cooperate, saying only, “Oh, you found it,” according to police reports.
On Wednesday, the
Maryland State Police crime lab confirmed the chemical that caused the officers
to become suddenly ill was PCP, a strong hallucinogenic drug also known as
angel dust and other street names that comes in both powder and liquid forms.
Simpson has been charged
with four counts of reckless endangerment, possession of PCP and possession of
marijuana. She is being held this week on a $250,000 bond.