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‘People immediately began to drop’ — Man charged in Pittsburgh mass drug overdose that killed 3

2019-09-24

Authorities in Pittsburgh have charged a man with passing around the drug that killed three people and sickened four others at a deadly afterparty on the city’s South Side early Sunday morning.

Peter Montalvo, who also goes by Carlos, was wearing bright-colored clothing and “was showing off all the money that he had” before he opened a box and scooped out a large quantity of what users believed was cocaine, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court.

Police said the suspect started going around the apartment with the white powder on a knife and letting people sniff the substance, which investigators believe also included fentanyl. After doing a “bump” of the drug, “people immediately began to ‘drop’ and suffer adverse effects,” police wrote in the complaint.

Montalvo was arrested around 3 a.m. Monday at his home in McKees Rocks, a Pittsburgh suburb, following an intense investigation by local and federal authorities.

The disturbing incident, part of which police said was recorded on a witness’ cellphone, happened after several people left a local club called Insomnia Discotec and went to a home at the Southside Works City Apartments sometime after 2 a.m. on Sunday, according to the complaint.

First responders were first called to the building for a medical emergency in an elevator, where they found a man identified as Rubio Martinez dead at the scene. Moments later, another man “appearing to have the same symptoms" and wearing the same orange wristband as Martinez was found on a nearby street, Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich told reporters at a news conference on Sunday. That second man was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Police then went to the apartment to investigate and found five additional victims, including two who were already dead — Joel Pecina and Josue Serrano. The victims’ ages have not been released, but Hissrich said they appeared to be between 30 and 50 years old.

Authorities said all seven victims had been to the same event at Insomnia before going to the after-party and all had sniffed Montalvo’s drug. An Ohio-based band that had played at the club earlier that night was also present at the apartment, but it was not immediately clear if its members were among the victims.

Montalvo was charged with illegal distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death and serious bodily injury. If convicted, he could face between 20 years and life in prison.