MOORHEAD - The suspected overdose of a Moorhead man has added to the rising death toll among heroin users in the area.
The latest victim, Ahmad Hajar Amin Gardi, 20, was found unresponsive by family members in their Moorhead home about 9 p.m. Tuesday, March 22, according to Moorhead Police Lt. Tory Jacobson.
Jacobson said attempts to revive Gardi using the overdose reversal drug Narcan were not successful and he was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The investigation into Gardi’s death is continuing, said Jacobson, who added that within the past week, police in Moorhead responded to two other medical emergencies where Narcan was administered. He said the victims in those cases survived.
Law enforcement agencies throughout the metro continue to publicly warn anyone using and/or abusing narcotics to be deliberately mindful of the rapidly increasing number of deaths due to overdose that have been occurring.
Gardi’s death brings to at least four the number of people known to have died from heroin overdoses in the Fargo-Moorhead area in recent weeks.
Newzad Brifki, a leader in Moorhead’s Kurdish enclave, said Gardi’s family left the Kurdistan region of Iraq and came to the U.S. in 1995 or 1996, about the time Gardi was born.
The young man’s death has been devastating for local Kurdish refugees because they came here seeking a better life, Brifki said. “We have left our homes and everything behind,” he said.
Brifki, head of the Kurdish Community of America, a nonprofit group, called for more awareness about the dangers of heroin, more facilities to help users and more law enforcement.
"This drug is affecting everyone," he said. "It’s not looking at races or ethnic groups."
Jacobson urged anyone with a drug abuse problem to look for help, and encouraged friends and family members to openly talk with loved ones regarding any safety issues they feel could be simmering in someone’s life.
“In addition to this public awareness campaign, area law enforcement and narcotics task force officers will continue to aggressively target those involved in the sale and distribution of illegal narcotics in our communities as this is a serious public safety concern,” Jacobson added.
He said in the cases where overdose victims were revived, ambulance crews administered the drug Narcan, which brought the individuals around.
Jacobson said that when dealing with an overdose, it is important for people to remember that good Samaritan laws give immunity from prosecution to both the victim and the reporting party when seeking help for a suspected drug overdose.
Reporter Archie Ingersoll contributed to this article.