Police believe the man-made drug Flakka was the cause of the behavior, which left the town of Sullivan in eastern Missouri reeling and searching for answers, the Kansas City Star reported.
Two people were arrested in relation to the incident, while several were treated at the hospital. The drugs recovered have not yet been tested, but police think the users mixed methamphetamine with flakka.
“We had multiple incidents this past weekend of people on some kind of substance acting out of their minds,” Police Lieutenant Patrick Johnson said, according to the Sullivan Independent News. “Barking like dogs, running up and down the street… entering people’s homes, breaking into a business, yelling outside of local businesses.”
One business owner described a theft that took place during the incident.
“My dad came in Saturday morning ready to open the place (up) and noticed that the doors by the machine area were opened up and came in and noticed one of our cash registers was knocked over on the floor,” Alec Ockrassa, the general manager of Sullivan Bowl, told KSDK. The thieves took more than a thousand dollars from the register, Ockrassa said.
Flakka, which is also known as alpha-PVP, has a similar chemical makeup to drugs known as “bath salts,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It is typically sold in a white or pink crystalline form, and emits a foul smell.
Users consume the synthetic drug by either eating, snorting, injecting or vaporizing it in an electronic cigarette device, according to the institute.
Flakka also featured in several incidents last year in Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio, according to the Star. It caused everything from overdose-related deaths to a slew of emergency room visits by people who used the drug.
The synthetic drug featured in a highly publicized case in Florida five years ago, in which a man who was reportedly high on flakka attacked another and proceeded to gnaw on his face. The ‘zombie’ incident led to the victim becoming disfigured. The attacker was shot dead by police.
The Missouri incident comes as the nationwide opioid crisis has been attracting government attention. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has called the opioid epidemic one of the top “lethal issues” in the US.
About “60,000 Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses” in 2016, Sessions said in August, pointing out that this was a “big increase” from the 52,000 deaths that occurred the year before.
President Donald Trump has declared the opioid crisis a “national emergency” and stated that the issue is a “serious problem the likes of which we have never had.”
One of the main contributing factors to the crisis is the prescription opioid Oxycontin, which is used for pain relief and is highly addictive. A report released earlier this year by the Commission on Combating Drug addiction and the Opioid Crisis said that America faces the death toll equal to “September 11th every three weeks,” as up to 142 people in the US die from opioid overdose every day.