Sunday, February 25, 2018
Public safety

Test finds bath salts chemical in Tampa rampage suspect's system

TAMPA — A man who went on a rampage of assaults in early September, touching off a massive daylong manhunt, had heavy amounts of illegal "bath salts" in his body when he was shot to death by police.

An autopsy and toxicology report released Friday by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office shows that Charlie "Chris" Bates had heavy concentrations of methylone in his system when he died.

Methylone is a chemical compound commonly found in drugs known as bath salts, which have been the subject of bans and intense law enforcement efforts in recent years due to increased use and the potential to alter a person's perception of reality.

People on the drug can experience many symptoms, including hallucinations, anxiety, violent behavior and seizures. The symptoms can last a few hours or up to a few days.

Bates, 24, touched off a sprawling manhunt Sept. 6 when he began a series of assaults through several neighborhoods in northern Tampa, near the University of South Florida.

More than 100 law enforcement officers from multiple agencies were looking for Bates on that Friday, the largest manhunt in Hillsborough since Dontae Morris was accused of shooting two Tampa police officers in 2010.

It ended when police officers saw Bates driving a stolen car, gave chase, then exchanged gunshots with him in front of a Waffle House before he died.

The medical examiner's autopsy report shows that Bates was shot at least 10 times and sustained numerous abrasions and penetrating wounds throughout his body.

The series of assaults began at about 11 p.m. the previous day, when Bates walked into a gathering of USF students watching football at the Cambridge Woods Apartments. He bound the four men and raped the four women.

Then he went to the Eagle Point Apartments, across 42nd Street. There, he approached a woman who was sitting on her porch. He forced her inside and made her undress and kiss him before she began to pray and recite Bible verses with him. His demeanor then changed, police said. Bates apologized, then left the woman, who called 911.

He then headed to the Oaks Condominiums just down the street, where he came upon a party. He forced about 25 people into a bedroom at gunpoint and fired at least one round into the floor before leaving, deputies said.

On his way out, Bates chased a man he encountered and fired several shots, missing the man.

Officers nearby, investigating the incident at Cambridge Woods Apartments, heard the gunshots and caught a glimpse of Bates as he ran away. Soon, they also had his fingerprints from the rape scene. By morning, authorities had a full perimeter set up and a warrant in hand.

About noon, they got a tip Bates had cut off his dreadlocks and stolen a friend's car. An officer noticed the burnt orange sedan in Temple Terrace and started following it. As it headed south on U.S. 301, a helicopter followed and Bates took off.

Two Tampa police officers in an unmarked Dodge rammed Bates' car, sending it swerving into the median and then sharply cutting right across several lanes. He slammed to a halt in front of a Waffle House just north of Interstate 4.

There, police and Bates exchanged gunfire as TV news helicopters hovered overhead.

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Published: 02/24/18