Is a new potent designer drug behind vicious Martin County attacks?

UPDATED 3:40 p.m. What is causing young men to viciously and randomly attack couples in their home in Martin County?

Sheriff William Snyder says investigators found a tantalizing clue after a second such attack this weekend in a Stuart neighborhood: a designer drug in the bath salt class that didn’t initially show up in any police database.

Snyder at a Monday news conference identified the substance as dibutylone, a type of hallucigenic bath salt. Users online warn of the powerful drug, calling it “a beast.”

Nico Gallo, 19,  went “cannonballing” through a window of a Hibiscus Park residence around 2 a.m. Sunday morning where a mother and son battled him from one end of the house to another until deputies subdued him, the sheriff said.

Gallo exhibited “extreme strength and a high tolerance to pain” early Sunday morning. The mother hit Gallo several times with a baseball bat, but it had no affect on the drugged-out teen.

What is even more concerning to Snyder is that the assault was very similar to one on Aug. 15, in which authorities say Austin Harrouff, also 19, stabbed a couple to death in their Tequesta garage, biting one victim severely.

Bath salts are the street name for a designer drug that is anything but for a soothing soak. It is a sister illicit substance to flakka and in the cathinone family of drugs often sold over the internet as legal products.

And just like Harrouff after the Aug. 15 attack, the suspect was hospitalized, unconscious and intubated, usually done to assist breathing. On Monday, Gallo was listed in stable condition.

“There is a lot of similarities, unfortunately,” Snyder said.



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