Syracuse uncle rescues child after punching man high on bath salts in the face

Jesse Claflin talks with police officers Tuesday afternoon

A Syracuse man is a hero after police say he rescued a child from a man who was high on bath salts.

According to Syracuse Police, around 4:40 Tuesday afternoon officers were called to 513 Seymour Street. Police say 31-year-old Jesse Claflin of Hartson Street in Syracuse was high on the synthetic drug known as 'bath salts' when he went onto the porch of the house and grabbed a five-year-old boy. Then, Claflin allegedly put a knife to the boy's throat.

Police say the boy's 29-year-old uncle witnessed the incident and immediately punched Claflin in the face, causing him to drop the boy and flee the scene. Neither the uncle nor the child have been identified.

Officers later found Claflin on the 400 block of Seymour Street, and as they approached him he went into a backyard of one of the neighborhood homes. When police cornered Claflin, he reportedly took out a knife and put it to his own throat, threatening to kill himself.

Police say they talked with Claflin for more than an hour before he surrendered. They say he told officers that he had ingested bath salts before the incident took place. He was then taken to Upstate University Hospital for an evaluation.

Claflin has been charged with unlawful imprisonment, menacing, endangering the welfare of a child, and criminal possession of a weapon. Syracuse Police say Claflin has a prior criminal record. He was scheduled to be arraigned in Syracuse City Court on Wednesday.

Bath salts have recently fueled a significant number of violent crimes. The Upstate Poison Center has seen an increase in bath salt-related calls. So far this year, the center has received more than 275 calls, compared with only 118 calls last year.

Dr. Alexander Garrard from SUNY Upstate Medical University understands the dangers behind the drug. "Think about it as like, almost like The Exorcist and The Hulk put together. You know, you get this very violent patient that really is unpredictable. Really, that's what we can say about these patients is that the only thing that's predictable is that they're unpredictable."

Syracuse Sergeant Tom Connellan believes bath salts are becoming a growing concern for law enforcement. "It's a constant problem," Sergeant Connellan said. "You know, any law enforcement agency that isn't prepared to deal with this, they've really got to get prepared because they're going to be seeing more and more of it."