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Bath salts rampage leads to arrest of Coaldale man at St. Lukes Miners Hospital

Published April 15. 2011 05:00PM

Coaldale police charged a borough man with aggravated assault, disorderly conduct and harrassment after he went on a bath salts-fueled rampage Sunday at St. Lukes Miners Memorial Hospital.

Donald A. Faenza, 45, of 2 Foster Ave., believed that demons were after him and had to be subdued by Taser during the April 10 incident.

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed by Officer Jeremy Talanca with District Judge Stephen Bayer of Tamaqua, here's what happened:

Talanca was dispatched to the hospital at 6:30 p.m. on a report of an out-of-control male trying to break down the door of the isolation room. Upon arrival, Talanca was met by the hospital's security officer. The officer and staff said Faenza had been brought in by ambulance for a mental disorder and that he believed that demons were after him and were going to harm him.

Talanca had seen similar behavior by people who had ingested "bath salts."

Bath salts in this context have nothing to do with skin softening beads. Instead, they are a blend of chemicals that produce methamphetamine-like effects in users. The substance can cause hallucinations, soaring blood pressure, violent behavior and siezures. It is currently legal, but state lawmakers are working to ban it.

The man was identified as Faenza, and a blood test revealed the presence of opiates and marijuana.

Talanca saw Faenza slam his body against the isolation room door so hard that the bottom hinge of the oak door broke.

Talanca asked him to calmly stand back from the door, and Faenza complied.

But as soon as Talanca opened the door, Faenza ran at him, Talanca tried to restrain him, and they both fell to the floor. Faenza then kicked Talanca in the left side of the officer's face before trying to grab his throat.

Hospital security tried to help, but Faenza was too violent.

Talanca told the security officer to step back as Talanca announced that he would use a Taser. Faenza got to his feet and again ran at Talanca. Talanca deployed the Taser, striking Faenza on the left side of his chest. Faenza went down, but after but five seconds later got back up, and was again Tasered.

For the next 20 minutes, Faenza continued to fight and was medicated to help him calm down. It took three doses to calm him.

Faenza was evaluated by an access worker and a 302 warrant was granted. He was taken to another hospital for observation and treatment.

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