Police car (Handout)
It has the street name of “Love Boat,” basically a cigarette soaked in formaldehyde or embalming fluid, then dried and smoked for the high it’s supposed to give.
But one of those cigarettes may have been a reason why a 25-year-old North Carolina man was shot in the head early Sunday, dying before his car crashed on Interstate 95 near Union Street, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
Police said Steven Shawn Grady of Castle Hayne, N.C., was driving back from Orlando just after 3 p.m. with two friends in a new Cadillac XTS when he died. One of the friends said front-seat passenger Tyrell Alexander Brown, 32, of Orlando just awoke and shot Grady for no apparent reason, according to Lt. Craig Waldrup said.
“Without warning, he pulled out a handgun and shot the victim in the head,” Waldrup said, adding he’s never heard of a situation like this.
“There was no conversation,” Waldrup said. “The suspect was sound asleep and he just woke up.”
Brown’s arrest report said he, Grady and a 39-year-old man in the back seat had all smoked “Love Boat” when they left North Carolina Saturday headed to Orlando. The back-seat passenger said Brown had “several extreme reactions” to the drug in the past. That passenger said he also warned Brown about having a bad reaction to marijuana after he smoked some in Orlando before returning to North Carolina.
The back-seat passenger told police he and Grady were talking as they headed north on I-95 through downtown when Brown woke up, the report said. He shot Brown, then turned the gun on himself, but didn’t pull the trigger. The other man tried to gain control of the Cadillac but failed. It hit several objects before ending up in a ditch.
Arriving officers found Grady dead behind the wheel, while Brown resisted and had to be subdued by Taser, then taken to UF Health Jacksonville for medical observation, the report said. Brown is now behind bars. There was no argument or incident that led up to the shooting, Waldrup said.
Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas or liquid used to make building materials and household products and is available for sale as a preservative and anti-bacterial. At very low levels, it causes watery eyes or burning sensations in the nose and throat, as well as coughing and skin irritation, according to health experts. Longer term or higher exposure can cause lung damage and a higher cancer risk. Highly flammable embalming fluid contains it as well as methanol and other solvents and is used to preserve the dead.
Both have been soaked into cigarettes or marijuana joints, with embalming fluid reportedly producing a hallucinogenic effect and causing the cigarette to burn more slowly and potentially resulting in a prolonged high, according to the National Drug Intelligence Center. Some researchers speculate that the “embalming fluid” is actually PCP, or formaldehyde cut with the hallucinogenic drug. Researchers have called for further analysis.