Gwinnett police tell Ch. 2 about second bath salt arrest in a week

by: Kerry Kavanaugh Updated:

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DULUTH, Ga. - For the second time in a week, Gwinnett County police said they have arrested a suspect who was allegedly high on bath salts.

Police said Matthew Hammond, 21, of Duluth, appeared to be suffering from hallucinations and extreme paranoia Tuesday afternoon.

Hammond's mother said she called 911 after she got a call from her two younger children.

She told police her son was running around with a kitchen knife acting erratically.

When the officer arrived on Worrall Hill Drive, police say Hammond ran at the police car.

"The subject was actually running alongside his car, attempting to get in," Cpl. Jake Smith with the Gwinnett County Police Department told Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh.

According to the police report, Hammond was shouting at the officer, "Let's go. Come on."

Police said they aren't sure if he was looking for a ride or a fight.

Fortunately, police said by then Hammond had dropped the knife.

The officer was able to talk him down to the ground, cuff him and put him in the back of the car.

Police said at that point Hammond admitted to drinking alcohol, smoking pot and snorting the synthetic drug known as bath salts.

This is the second bath salts-related arrest Gwinnett County police have encountered in recent weeks.

Police arrested Karl Laventure, 21, at a Lilburn golf course in June.

They said he fought off 14 rounds from a stun gun and didn't blink an eye when he was pepper-sprayed.

Laventure later told Kavanaugh, he believes he smoked a joint laced with bath salts.

Police said Hammond was far more cooperative, but had periodic outbursts.

"As the officer was transporting the subject to the jail, he became increasingly agitated (and) actually kicked at the officer's door," Smith said.

Kavanaugh obtained video from the Gwinnett County jail showing multiple deputies taking Hammond out of the police car and into booking.

"With bath salts, more often than with other drugs, you see more severe reactions, more severe paranoia. They seem to feel a lot less pain," Smith said.

Gwinnett County officers have avoided seriously injuring anyone during these encounters. But as bath salts continue to grow in popularity and availability, there is concern that the next encounter could be different.

"The danger of things escalating to a deadly force situation is definitely higher," Smith said.

Kavanaugh spoke to Hammond's mother at her home Friday. She said her son suffers from epilepsy and had several seizures Tuesday morning.

She said the after effects of the seizures could be to blame for his bizarre behavior.

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