COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
A Columbia man charged with felony second-degree murder made his first court appearance Friday.
Tavares Patrick II, 27, was charged Thursday with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of selling drugs for two October fentanyl overdoses. He was arrested by Columbia police around 5 p.m. Wednesday.
In court Friday, a judge kept Patrick's bond set at no bond, and ordered a bond investigation. A bond review hearing is scheduled for Dec. 14., and a preliminary case hearing is scheduled for Jan. 4.
The two overdose deaths that occurred in October are two of many, as data shows a growing number of opioid overdoses in Missouri.
State data shows overdose deaths have been on the rise in Missouri in recent years. In 2018, there were 1,608 overdose deaths in the state, and in 2022 there were 2,180 overdose deaths.
The dashboard also shows Boone County had 55 drug overdose deaths in 2022. Cole County had 12.
Overdoses involving non-heroin opioids, such as fentanyl, were responsible for more than 1,500 Missouri deaths in 2022. This is nearly double compared to 2018.
The health program coordinator at the Columbia/Boone County Health Department, Heather Harlan, said fentanyl is showing up in all kinds of drugs, with one concern being counterfeit pills and specifically blue Percocet pills.
She said it only takes the smallest amount to kill someone.
"It just takes a few grains, the weight of a snowflake, to be a fatal dose," Harlan said. "Think about trying to sprinkle 15 grains of salt into your hand. That's about the amount that we're talking about that can be a fatal overdose."
Boone County Prosecutor Roger Johnson said drug overdose deaths and fentanyl in particular is a public health emergency in Mid-Missouri.
"Every year, consistently 30 people or more have been dying from drug overdoses just in the City of Columbia," Johnson said.
Columbia police dispatch logs show 158 calls for overdoses since the beginning of 2023. It does not specify how many resulted in death.
Harlan said signs of an overdose include slowed breathing and skin turning either blue or gray. She encourages everyone to get and learn to use Naloxone, also known as Narcan.
She said to administer it, people should spray it into the person's nostril, wait two or three minutes, and then spray again. She said people can also call 911 and the dispatcher can walk people through how to use it.
The health department offers Naloxone and fentanyl test strips for free, and pharmacies also sell it over the counter.
If someone is worried about calling 911 if they are with someone having an overdose, Johnson said people should know they are protected by law. The Good Samaritan law protects people calling for medical help for soemone who's overdosing.
"You can't be charged with possession or you can't get violated on your probation if you're calling for medical help for somebody who's overdosing," Johnson said. "We have too many cases where people's friends leave them behind when they're overdosing."
Another resource is treatment court. Johnson said his office has recently implemented a new initiative on drug cases by trying to get nonviolent offenders into treatment.
He said when it comes to drug dealers, his office's focus is putting those people out of business. He said when it can be proved that a dealer sold the drugs that killed someone, they will be charged with murder.
"We have dealers who are selling and every single time they sell one of these pills, they're risking somebody's life," Johnson said. "In Missouri law, if you're selling drugs and you kill somebody, that's murder."