Police arrest 2 in connection to 27 flakka overdoses downtown

An Indianapolis EMS employee responds to a call. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Police arrested two men in connection to nearly 30 overdoses that happened downtown within 24 hours.

Authorities believe the men were selling flakka, a form of spice, to homeless men. Police said the flakka was likely laced with PCP — also known as phencyclidine or angel dust — or other unknown drugs, which is what makes it not just risky, but unpredictable. Flakka has been known to cause bizarre behavior, agitation, paranoia and delusions of superhuman strength.

“He had smoked flakka behind our facility and literally within 60 seconds, he passed out in the middle of the street. Dead to the world. Unconscious. Police could not rouse him,” said Steve Kerr, who is the chief development officer at the Wheeler Mission Ministries.

Kerr shared one of 27 stories of homeless men staying at the Wheeler Mission shelter, 520 E. Market St., who took flakka. Police arrested Melvin Cannon, 59, and Nathaniel Davis, 63. Both remained in custody at the Marion County Jail on Friday night.

“To know these guys are now behind bars, this drug is off the streets, is a huge relief to us, and I’m sure it’s a relief to our guests,” Kerr said.

Kerr believes Cannon and Davis targeted the homeless for financial gain.

“End of the month, first of the month, a lot of our guests will receive a disability check or some sort of check of support. These predators know when there’s money to be had.”

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. Chris Wilburn agreed that the suspects targeted the homeless. Wilburn called it an epidemic that was under control quickly.

“There were search warrants, multiple search warrants executed with our SWAT team. We had corroboration and collaboration from the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office. They understood. It was a health crisis,” Wilburn said.

A crisis that Kerr hopes has come to an end, with Cannon and Davis behind bars.

“We will create a record on these two who are incarcerated and flag those records if they ever show up. They’re definitely not welcome here at the Wheeler Mission,” Kerr said.

To help prevent this type of thing from happening again, Wheeler Mission has increased the hours of part-time employees and is working closer with police.

In addition, the Wheeler Mission offers a variety of services for drug addicts, including residential treatment.