PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – More than a dozen SWAT officers were hospitalized after agents raided a home in Pittsburgh’s West End Wednesday morning.
Around 6 a.m., several agencies began executing federal search warrants at three locations in the West End. Two houses on Lakewood Avenue and one on Bond Street were targeted.
The Department of Justice say the incident happened at the home on Bond Street while officers tried to serve a warrant there.
KDKA’s Brenda Waters Reports —
According to investigators, when the SWAT team members went into the home, they found one of the suspects trying to escape through a back window.
That’s when a table where drugs were being bagged was knocked over by one of the suspects, “causing the powder narcotics to become airborne,” according to a press release from the Justice Department.
Eighteen SWAT officers were taken to UPMC Mercy Hospital with various symptoms after the exposure.
“They had some burning in their throats, some became a little lightheaded. One person was nauseous. Fortunately, these symptoms were brief,” said Dr. Michael Turteurro, the chief of Emergency Services at UPMC Mercy Hospital.
All have since been medically cleared.
“Fortunately, the individuals that were involved this morning were able to get out of the situation right away,” said Dr. Turteurro. “The big thing that we did for them is we basically decreased the chance that they could be exposed to anything that was laying on their bodies or on their clothes. So the big thing is to get the clothes off them, get them showered, get them decontaminated and then have them evaluated by a medical professional.”
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the chemical substance was possibly fentanyl.
In the Justice Department’s press release, Acting U.S. Attorney Soo C. Song said, “Fentanyl exposure is an all too real risk to law enforcement as we learned this morning. Quick and professional action by first responders helped avert a potential catastrophe.”
Four people are also facing charges following the raid.
Investigators are charging 38-year-old Anthony Lozito, the man who tried to escape through the window, as well as 27-year-old Lynell Guyton, 31-year-old Calvin Armstrong and 21-year-old Kristen Shearer in federal court with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute a quantity of Fentanyl.
In addition to the substance that went airborne, investigators say they found a “significant quantity of white powder” on a plate in the kitchen. They also found more than 1,000 packaged stamp bags and about 250 grams of unpackaged drugs.
The suspects are set to appear in federal court next week.
The agencies involved in the raid included U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security, Pittsburgh police, Pittsburgh SWAT and state police.
None of the federal law enforcement officers taking part in the early morning raid were adversely affected by the drugs.