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Weber City officer reportedly forced to Taser suspect while responding to call involving bath salts abuse

February 25th, 2012 8:35 pm by Wes Bunch

GATE CITY — Despite being declared illegal almost a year ago, law enforcement officials in Scott County and surrounding localities say they are continuing to see a sizable number of cases that are in some way related to bath salts.


On Friday night, a Weber City police officer was reportedly forced to Taser a male suspect while responding to a call on Greenwood Street involving bath salts abuse.


James Kerns, 28, of Weber City, and his wife, Carla Kerns, 22, were taken into custody on multiple charges, including child endangerment, resisting arrest and drug possession. Two children, ages 2 and 3, were removed from their home by social services.


Additional charges are pending in the case.


According to authorities, officers from Weber City, Gate City and the Scott County Sheriff’s Office responded to the incident, which took place at the Kerns’ residence.


Weber City Police Chief Phillip Lane said James Kerns exhibited uncooperative and violent behavior in front of officers, and at one point, appeared to hold his 3-year-old child hostage while threatening to kill himself and police.


Although James Kerns was reportedly talked into releasing the child, Lane said one of his officers felt he had no choice but to use his Taser a short time later when the suspect began once again to resist arrest.


The couple allegedly told authorities they had been using bath salts “all day” leading up to the incident, which occurred around 1 a.m.


Although selling, purchasing and possessing synthetic drugs like bath salts and K2 is against the law in Virginia and neighboring Kentucky, the substance is still available in Tennessee despite attempts in 2011 to institute a statewide ban.


For that reason, local law enforcement and investigators with the Southwest Virginia Drug Task Force say cases like the one involving James and Carla Kerns are becoming more common in areas like Scott County that are located along the Tennessee border and in close proximity to urban areas like Kingsport.


“I don’t know exactly where it’s being purchased at because it’s illegal in Virginia,” Scott County Sheriff John Puckett said. “It’s a bad drug. It’s most likely coming from Tennessee, because some places still sell it in Tennessee.”


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