Alert state police and Somerset Borough police officers realized Monday that they had come across a "one-pot" methamphetamine lab in an apartment.
Justin Dale Carr, 21, and Samantha Elaine McKenzie, 20, both of South Vincent Avenue, Somerset, were arraigned Tuesday before District Judge Ken Johnson of Somerset. Carr is in the Somerset County Jail on $100,000 bond. McKenzie was released on $50,000 unsecured bond. Both face preliminary hearings at 11 a.m. Tuesday before Johnson.
Somerset County Assistant District Attorney Hannah Myers said state police first arrested Carr in an unrelated matter.
"When they responded to the residence because of the diligence and training of the state police and Somerset Borough police, they recognized the signs of a meth lab, a one-pot cook method that was constructed and in use in the apartment," Myers said. "Because of quick thinking of the officers involved a potential catastrophe was averted."
Trooper Jeffrey Ely said in an affidavit that he was dispatched to the Somerset Walmart at 11 a.m. Monday for a reported criminal mischief complaint. The incident was captured on security cameras and he recognized Carr from previous incidents. He saw Carr on Tayman Avenue in the borough. Carr was carrying a laptop-style bag that he dropped on the sidewalk. He continued to reach in and out of his pockets. Ely asked him to stop that.
The trooper asked Carr if he could search him and Carr refused. Carr moved in such a way that Ely thought he was going to flee or fight. He placed him on the hood of the state police car to search him. The trooper also called other officers for assistance.
He discovered a large hunting-style knife in a sheath in Carr's back pocket, four cellular phones, $329 and a baggie containing 21 oxycodone tablets. The computer bag contained several computers and two tourniquets used for injections. Carr attempted to swallow the baggie, requiring Ely to force him to spit it out. During the struggle, an unidentified officer was injured and required medical treatment. During a body search at the police station, a hypodermic needle was discovered hidden between Carr's buttocks, police said.
The incident led police to the apartment at 123 S. Vincent Ave. Trooper Norman Klahre said in an affidavit that McKenzie gave them written consent to search the apartment. McKenzie went to a bedroom and pulled out multiple jars and bottles containing various chemicals. The apartment was secured and the state police Clandestine Lab Response Team was called. The team processed the scene for several hours.
Klahre said the team recovered four working one-bottle meth labs. The evidence was taken to the Greensburg laboratory for analysis. Trooper Jason Cachera said the labs were highly volatile. The defendants were using lithium from batteries, Coleman fuel, kerosene and cold medication.
"This address is an older wood framed apartment building," Klahre wrote. "There are four people living on the first floor and one living on the third floor. Two of the people who live on the first floor are under the age of 18."