The strange behavior of a University of Colorado student shot and killed by a Boulder police officer after attacking people with a knife, then confronting officers with a hammer may be connected to what officials believe is a “bad batch” of LSD going around the county.
“There’s been several reports in the county in the last few weeks of LSD trips out of control,” Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said Wednesday. “We’ve seen some really bizarre behavior.”
Samuel Forgy, 22, was fatally shot by a police officer — whose identity is expected to be released Thursday — after an incident in which he reportedly was under the influence of the hallucinogenic drug LSD.
Police were called to an apartment at 1841 19th St. shortly after 10:30 p.m. Monday after Forgy reportedly attacked two other people with a knife, leaving one man with a six-inch gash on his face.
When officers arrived on scene, Forgy came out of the apartment naked and holding a hammer, according to police.
Officers repeatedly ordered Forgy to drop the hammer, police said, but he instead climbed onto a railing as if he was going to jump down on the officers on the landing below him.
Police said an officer tried unsuccessfully to use a Taser on Forgy before the CU student was fatally shot by a second officer.
According to police, the people who called 911 said Forgy had taken LSD that night.
Boulder police spokeswoman Sarah Huntley said toxicology tests like those typically performed by the Boulder County Coroner’s Office in death investigations should reveal exactly what was in the student’s system.
Longmont police Officer Cody Clark — a drug recognition expert trained to evaluate people suspected to be under the influence of narcotics — said different individuals react differently to LSD depending on the chemical makeup of the particular dose, as well as the person taking the drug.
“That’s one of the things that is really scary,” Clark said. “Some people may have euphoric feelings. … For other people, sometimes fear is what manifests itself, and that’s what they end up reacting to.”
Clark said people experiencing “bad trips” on LSD can experience hallucinations that cause paranoia, which can sometimes lead users to react violently.
“They are so disconnected from reality at that point and their brain has been taken over by these hallucinations, so they absolutely can become violent,” Clark said. “They feel extremely paranoid, and they think everyone in the world is coming to get them and attacking them, and every moving shadow or object is basically looking at them or out to get them.
“They have this extremely terrified feeling and they feel like they have to lash out in response or curl up in fear.”
While he cautioned that nothing is certain until the tests in the Forgy case come back, Pelle said there have been recent incidents in the county of strange behavior after LSD use that may be due to a bad batch of the drug.
In addition to Monday’s incident, an 18-year-old burglary suspect had to be restrained by five officers in Longmont after he reportedly took LSD.
“It certainly seems like the ‘bad trips’ are becoming more and more common,” said Clark, who has been with Longmont police for three years. “This last uptick is really worrisome, and not like anything I’ve ever seen.
“It’s definitely causing some concern with a lot of people here because it’s so unpredictable.”
Clark said drugs with the improper chemical makeup can cause unusual reactions, and several people who have had bad experiences have admitted to using LSD beforehand. With this many cases in a short amount of time, Clark said it could be a “bad batch” circulating around the county.
“Considering the amount, it’s something we are paying attention to and pretty concerned with,” Clark said. “It’s been really scary.”
LSD in Boulder County
Pelle said that, like many drugs, LSD comes and goes in Boulder County.
“We have LSD periodically,” Pelle said. “I don’t know why drugs surge or resurface, but they do. Preferences change, and there are increases or decreases periodically, just like heroin, opiates and other drugs.”
Forgy’s death marks the second CU student to be fatally shot this year while reportedly under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs.
Robert Zamora, 19, was shot and killed during a home invasion May 4 in south Boulder. Prosecutors later ruled the shooting justified and said Zamora likely was on mushrooms.
In 2013, a then-19-year-old Spencer Crawford fatally stabbed another teen, Angus Gaudin, 17, at a campsite near Nederland while Crawford was under the influence of LSD, mushrooms and “moonshine,” according to police.
Pelle did say that LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs like mushrooms tend to be more popular among younger people.
“It’s fairly inexpensive compared to things like cocaine and some of the opiates, and it’s not considered as threatening and addictive,” Pelle said. “It’s also a very different kind of high.”
But as the past few weeks have proven, drugs and the effects they have on people are not always predictable.
“When things are manufactured by home-schooled chemists in the bathtub, it’s kind of difficult to have any quality control,” Pelle said.