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Jake Kruse got to the party late and walked into a Blaine house strewn with beer bottles. Then teens and young adults began taking a drug that few knew anything about.
Two days later, one of those teens is dead from an overdose of 2C-E, a synthetic hallucinogen, and 21-year-old Timothy Richard Lamere is jailed on suspicion of providing the substance used at the party. The Anoka County Sheriff's Office said he "reportedly purchased, possessed and provided the 2C-E."
The office said Lamere, of Blaine, was arrested Friday on suspicion of third-degree murder in the death of Trevor Robinson, and could be charged Monday.
Eleven partygoers, including Kruse, ended up in a hospital early Thursday after the party, and an 18-year-old woman remained in critical condition Friday. The others have been released.
Kruse, 19, had just gotten off work when he arrived early Thursday at the party house, where he said he snorted the drug, crushed into a powder. He said Robinson, who had just turned 19, was surrounded by beer bottles and took slightly more of the drug than others did.
That was when the night of partying turned into a nightmare. The drug, Kruse said, "hits you hard right away and then hits you again 20 minutes after that." Eleven of the 13 people at the party took the drug, Kruse said, while the other two just drank alcohol.
'Then Trevor went still'
Most of those who took the drug began "dry-heaving horribly, the worst I'd ever seen or heard," Kruse said. "But Trevor was different."
Kruse said Robinson's "eyes were fluttering, his arms flailing. He punched a hole in the wall. He had no control." He described Robinson as falling to the ground, his body a jumble of seizures. Four friends held Robinson down.
"Then Trevor went still," Kruse said.
The kitchen, living room and dining room were awash in panic, he said. One of the young adults started giving Robinson CPR, then mouth-to-mouth resuscitation -- anything to revive him, Kruse said.
Somebody called 911, he said, but the young people -- ages 16 to 21 -- didn't wait for an ambulance. Robinson was carried out of the house by friends and brought to Unity Hospital in Fridley, where he was removed from life support Thursday afternoon.
Kruse remembers leaving the chaotic scene in his car, going to his home in Spring Lake Park with another buddy who had overdosed, and sitting in the basement, tripping for what seemed like 30 minutes.
Kruse said he had used chemicals in the past, including hallucinogens. He'd gone to a sober school and said he'd been clean for nearly three years before this "slip."
In the past, he and several friends had gotten together to smoke pot and drink, but never anything like this.
Kruse said they knew there would be no adults at the house, where a 16-year-old lives. Another friend was supposedly bringing 2C-I, which is similar to the 2C-E that testing later showed to be the drug people ingested.
The combination of 2C-E and another drug, such as alcohol, could prove fatal, said Carol Falkowski, drug abuse strategy officer with the state Department of Human Services.
Kruse said police arrived at his home later, telling him they were seeking everyone who had taken the drug. The police questioned him, he said, and then told him and his friend to stay put, that an ambulance was on its way. Police would find all 11 people who overdosed at various locations.
Blaine Police Capt. Kerry Fenner said Friday he doubted the parents would face any criminal actions because they would have had to have known about the party or played a role in providing the drugs to be charged.
Status of 2C-E
At a news conference Thursday, Anoka County sheriff's officials said 2C-E is a chemical compound that is not on the list of controlled substances that are illegal. But a spokesman from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said it is illegal under the Federal Analog Act, which allows the federal government to treat a drug as illegal if it sufficiently mimics another controlled substance.
2C-E is a cousin of 2C-B, which is classified as illegal under federal law.
"Any substance that is similar in chemical structure and effect on the body and manufactured for human consumption can be treated as if it were a controlled substance if it mimics a controlled substance," said Rusty Payne, a DEA spokesman. "It is illegal. It can be prosecuted under the Analog Act. I think that's one of the things that people are missing here."
In a Friday news release, sheriff's officials wrote, "This case has progressed quickly, and new and clarifying information surrounding the substance '2C-E' has been obtained" that allowed it to classified as a controlled substance.
The sheriff's office said that if the county attorney decides to charge Lamere, it will do so by noon Monday.
Robinson's death stirred a quick reaction among local politicians. Staff members at were busy researching the situation Friday for possible legislative action, said Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, chairman of the House Public Safety Committee.
The incident also sparked some bipartisan teamwork on Capitol Hill in Washington. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who is co-sponsoring legislation to ban synthetic marijuana, called GOP colleague Charles Grassley of Iowa on Friday to explore the possibility of adding a 2C-E provision to that bill. "He is open to this and is going to work with me on it," she said. "Either we'll look at adding [2C-E] to the bill or possibly doing a stand-alone bill."
Klobuchar, a former prosecutor, said a straight ban is a more permanent solution than relying on the Analog Act.
Funeral arrangements are pending for Robinson, who has a 5-month-old son and was attending Anoka-Ramsey Community College. Spencer Hockert, 19, his best friend, said close friends hoped to gather Friday to celebrate Robinson's life.