An old, dangerous problem has resurfaced in Berea, police say, following an arrest for paint “huffing.”

While the misdemeanor charge may sound minor, Berea Police Capt. Ken Clark said volatile substance abuse can be extremely dangerous.

“Of course, it does give them a high, but it is also a quite unhealthy and dangerous high,” Clark said. “You can do a lot of damage to your brain and a lot of your other organs.”

Joey R. Marcum, 25, of Silver Creek Drive, was charged with volatile substance abuse Sunday after police responded to a complaint at the home. According to the arrest citation, Marcum had gold paint on his body, clothes and face and had an odor of paint when he spoke.

“You can obviously smell that acetone smell,” Clark said. “They usually appear to be under the influence of some sort of substance — using slurred speech, red and bloodshot eyes, staggering — exhibiting all the signs of being intoxicated.”

Several years ago, Clark said it was a problem the police department was seeing almost on a daily basis. Since laws have passed requiring buyers to be 18 years or older to purchase spray paint and enacting the volatile substance abuse charge, things have slowed down.

“We used to have a real bad problem with it,” Clark said. “Eight or nine years ago we had a lot of problems with it because it was much cheaper. You could go to the dollar store, buy a can of paint and it was a very cheap high. They prefer usually gold or silver because they think that doesn’t show up as much on the skin as other colors. But what they’ll do is spray that into a plastic or paper bag and they will huff the fumes off of it.”

According to a special 2004 CBS report, “Huffing” Can Kill Your Child, chronic abuse also can impair kidney and liver functions while causing memory and hearing loss as well as permanent brain damage.

Threatening police

In other news, Berea police arrested a Richmond man who reportedly went to the home of a Berea police officer and threatened his family.

Adam Carr, 27, was charged Friday with second-degree criminal trespassing, disorderly conduct, third-degree terroristic threatening, third-degree assault on a police officer, resisting arrest and third-degree criminal mischief.

“It was a strange circumstance,” Clark said. “We have a police officer who lives on Redwood Drive, one of our new officers. Mr. Carr went to his house and started beating and banging on the door and started screaming and carrying on.”

The officer reportedly asked Carr to leave, but he allegedly continued to “scream and rant.”

“He finally turned to leave and in the meantime, the police officer’s wife had called the sheriff’s department and state police,” Clark said. “He turned to leave and then turned around and came back and started all over.”

When police arrived, Clark said there was a struggle, but Carr eventually was taken into custody. The incident reportedly was spawned by something the officer supposedly had previously said to the neighbor. The officer was off-duty at home with his young children and pregnant wife.

“A police officer when he is at home is like anybody else,” Clark said. “He’s entitled to defend himself and his family and property.”

Wanton endangerment

An 18-year-old is charged with driving his car through a grassy area between Madison Southern and Foley Middle School on the last day of classes, May 25. Scott J. Stutts of Whisper Hills Drive is charged with first-degree wanton endangerment for the incident.

“The violator pulled his vehicle onto the front lawn of the school where approximately 100 middle school students were playing,” Stutts’ arrest citation stated. “The violator started doing donuts with his vehicle, which came very close to hitting several of the students who were playing. The students began to run away because they were in fear of being struck by the violator’s vehicle.”

No one was injured in the incident. While police could have charged Stutts with up to 100 counts of wanton endangerment, a Class D felony punishable by one to five years in prison per count, Clark said the department is leaving that decision to the court system.

Kelly Foreman can be reached at or 624-6694.

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