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NYPD officers sickened by fumes at Queens apartment, police say

An NYPD sergeant and seven officers were sickened

An NYPD sergeant and seven officers were sickened by fumes inside a Rego Park, Queens, apartment building while responding to a call on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017, police said. Above, members of the NYPD Crime Scene Unit arrive to collect evidence from the building on Saunders Street. Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

An NYPD sergeant and seven officers were hospitalized early Friday morning after being sickened by fumes while responding to a call in Rego Park, Queens, police said.

Police were called to an apartment building on Saunders Street, near 63rd Drive, around 5:30 a.m. for a report of an emotionally disturbed person, according to an NYPD spokesman. When they went inside the apartment, the officers and sergeant were met with noxious fumes that made them feel light-headed and nauseous, according to the spokesman.

All eight were taken to Northwell Health facility in Forest Hills in stable condition, the spokesman said. They were expected to be OK.

Police are investigating possible heroin usage in the apartment that may be connected to the fumes that sickened the officers, the spokesman said. White powder suspected of being heroin was found in the apartment and investigators were doing tests to see if it contained fentanyl, an opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, Chief Timothy Trainor said.

More than $75,000 in cash was found in the apartment, he said.

A 39-year-old man who was inside the apartment was taken into custody, the spokesman said. It remains unclear if he will be charged.

Drug dealers have been lacing heroin with fentanyl, a dangerous practice that can lead to a fatal overdose, according to narcotics investigators. As of late Friday night, the results of the test for fentanyl weren’t known, said another police official. Police were seeking a search warrant to do a more thorough examination of the apartment.

Law enforcement officials around the country view the presence of fentanyl in heroin as a significant problem. Not only is fentanyl believed to be the cause of a dramatic spike in drug overdose deaths but police are taking protective measures — including wearing hazmat suits — when they think the opioid might be present.

With Anthony M. DeStefano

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