Officials in the Bemidji area are investigating whether four heroin overdoses – including one that proved to be fatal – are related.
The Beltrami County Sheriff's Office, the Bemidji Police Department and Leech Lake Tribal Police were called to investigate the heroin overdoses over the weekend, including the death of 39-year-old Adrian Richard Dunn, a news release says.
Officials were called to Patriot Drive Northwest in Bemidji around 5:30 a.m. Saturday, where they found Dunn not breathing. Deputies performed CPR and other lifesaving measures, but they weren't successful and he was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
The three others who overdosed are being treated at medical facilities, but because they are medical cases the sheriff's office is not commenting.
The sheriff's office is now investigating to determine where the heroin came from and if the cases are connected. Officials will perform a chemical analysis of the drug to determine if the heroin was laced with something, or if Dunn's death was caused by an overdose of a more pure amount of heroin.
Those results "will take time," the sheriff's office says.
Investigators are executing search warrants and are asking anyone with information about these cases or the distribution of heroin in the community to call law enforcement at 318-333-9111.
Officials are also asking people who know someone who uses drugs to closely monitor them for breathing difficulties, incoherence and unconsciousness – all of which are signs they need emergency medical treatment.
Opioid and heroin overdoses are a growing problem in Minnesota and across the country, which has prompted many law enforcement agencies to carry Narcan or naloxone – a drug that helps counteract the effects of a heroin overdose and is credited with helping save the lives of several Minnesotans.
Ernie Beitel, chief deputy with the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office, told BringMeTheNews deputies currently do not carry Narcan or naloxone, noting one of the biggest issues is trying to protect the antidote from the elements.
"We need to protect it from freezing in the winter and from too much heat in the summer. For larger departments that have fleet cars running 24/7 it is more easily protected, but in rural areas that is much more difficult," Beitel said. "I have asked our medical community to help me solve this issue but have no answers yet."
Beitel told BringMeTheNews he couldn't say if the antidote would have helped save Dunn's life.