NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Several police officers were sent to the hospital after responding to a call in Rego Park, Queens after authorities say they were suddenly overcome by a dangerous substance.
Police sources tell CBS2 that the entire midnight shift at the precinct was hospitalized, one sergeant and seven officers.
NYPD Assistant Chief Juanita Holmes said the incident began at around 2 a.m. when officers were responding to a noise complaint on Saunders Street.
Sources say an emotionally disturbed person locked himself inside a bedroom and after those eight officers arrived at the apartment, they found the man covered in a loose white powder which gave off a chemical odor and coated the apartment floor.
The responding officers started feeling dizzy and light-headed, CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported.
Emergency Services brought the 39-year-old emotionally disturbed man — identified as Onix Morales — out of the building. The suspect was treated with nalaxone for a possible opioid overdose, 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reported.
“As a result of such, our officers were exposed to an unknown substance,” which resulted in the eight NYPD officers also being taken to the hospital, Holmes said. Symptoms included nausea and tingling in the fingers.
By the time they headed to the hospital Morales was in a catatonic state.
“I saw them put a man in a gurney, and put him in the emergency vehicle. He was wrapped up in a bed sheet,” one neighbor said.
They have since been treated and released.
“We received a search warrant for the apartment. We did find an unknown amount of cash as well as a large amount of a white substance that tested positive for heroin,” Holmes said.
Residents say it was an incredibly large and confusing scene.
“I woke up here on the sixth floor wondering what was going on,” resident John Thomas said. “A lot of screaming, yelling, banging.”
“There were dozens of trucks and firemen and policemen,” said another resident. “There were a lot of ambulances.”
The suspect is in custody, but has not yet been charged. Sources tell 1010 WINS he had just moved into the apartment and has a criminal history.
The investigation is ongoing.