published Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Chattanooga police ID Ecstasy overdose victims

Chattanooga police identified three men who reportedly overdosed on Ecstasy over the weekend. One of them died.

Robert Allen, 20, was dropped off Sunday morning at HCA Parkridge Medical Center's emergency room, where he was pronounced dead. He would have turned 21 later this month.

A toxicology report is still pending at the Hamilton County Medical Examiner's Office to determine his cause of death.

Antonio Espey, 20, and Roger Bell, 24, also were taken to the emergency room. They are listed in stable condition, according to police.

It's unclear if all three men were at the party. Police have not released the location of the party.

Police issued a news release after Allen's death to warn people about the drug's effects.

"If someone is making it that potent, we'll have a lot more cases like this," said Tim McFarland, public information officer for the department, on Sunday.

In the fall, police officers noticed an increase in Ecstasy when examining drugs they were taking off the street. It's unclear if the amount of Ecstasy is still on the rise.

It's not uncommon for dealers to mix other drugs with Ecstasy into capsules -- including methamphetamines -- and pass it off as Ecstasy. Users often don't know what they are taking.

Both Espey and Allen have a history of taking risks. Both have been associated with previous shootings.

Allen had a brush with death in October when he was gunned down in a parking lot at 2421 Fourth Ave.

At the time, he was listed in critical, but stable condition. He had a conviction of drug possession for resale also from last year in which he received a one-year suspended sentence, according to Hamilton County Criminal Court records.

Espey was a suspect in the slaying of Herbert Strickland in 2011. The charges against him were later dismissed when the video of the shooting was not clear and the woman, Barbara Johnson, who identified him, was herself shot and killed.

Contact staff writer Beth Burger at bburger@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6406. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/abburger.

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