No evidence that widely circulated report is true about fentanyl stabbing near UF campus

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There is no evidence that a report circulating across the University of Florida is true, that a young woman was jabbed with a needle and unwittingly exposed to a high dose of the dangerous drug fentanyl inside a popular Midtown bar across the street from campus last week.

Gainesville and UF police departments confirmed this week they were aware of the report – spread widely over social media and word of mouth in classrooms and on campus – about what would have been a sensational and likely fatal attack against a young woman.

Gainesville police Lt. Lisa Scott said the department was working with university police to find the source of the report and determine whether it might be true. She said police have no information from anyone reporting that they were assaulted in that way.

WUFT News is reporting on the scare – despite no evidence that it happened – to calm anxiety among its audience and provide an update on the status of police investigations into the matter because the report of the purported fentanyl attack has been so widely circulated among students, staff and faculty.

The source of the report, obtained by WUFT News, appeared to originate in an iMessage group text among at least four unidentified women who said that a coworker identified only as “Maddy” was at a specific Midtown bar when someone stuck her with a needle and injected her with a combination of fentanyl and methamphetamine. The incident occurred “the other night,” it read.

“She has, like, a huge bruise,” read the message, which began circulating late last week.

“She said she thought her arm got snagged on something” and passed out unconscious, the message continued. The next day, at a doctor’s office, her blood work revealed that “they’ve never seen someone survive that much fentanyl,” according to the message.

The manager at the bar identified in the message as the location where the incident occurred said employees also investigated the claim and said there were no reports of anyone injured that way. The manager said the purported victim likely would have collapsed and died immediately if the amount of fentanyl described was accurate. 

WUFT News is not identifying the manager or the bar because there is no evidence that the claimed assault actually happened. 

UF Health was unable to determine whether anyone checked into any of its hospital facilities with a serious fentanyl exposure without knowing a purported patient’s full name, not just a first name such as “Maddy,” spokesman Matt Walker said.

Screenshots of the iMessage have spread widely across the university, and the claim about the attack has been the talk inside classrooms.

University police Capt. Latrell Simmons said the department also has been unable to identify any such victim and said detectives were investigating. Police said they had only a blurry screenshot of the message and were unable to trace its origin.

Simmons said finding the purported victim was the detectives’ priority.

Many students shared the message without verifying whether it was true. One said she received a copy of the message from a friend who had received it from a classmate. She said she shared a copy to make her friends aware of the need to stay safe while enjoying Gainesville’s nightlife.

Officials from the city’s government did not immediately return phone messages. 

University police said that regardless whether the attack happened as claimed, students should be careful to watch their drinks, cover their drinks, not leave drinks unattended and take steps to remove themselves from any uncomfortable or threatening situations. They also urged students who believe they may have ingested or been injected with anything harmful to dial 911 or go immediately to a hospital.

The claim surfaced just weeks after two Gainesville police officers were treated with Narcan after they began experiencing symptoms of exposure to an unidentified opioid such as fentanyl within a few hours of a drug arrest on Aug. 28. The department said both its officers were recovering and had been released from the hospital.

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This is a breaking news story. Check back for further developments. Contact WUFT News by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org

About Silas Morgan

Silas is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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