Yesterday at approximately 6:30pm, Hazleton City Police, along with EMS responded to the wooded area south of Arthur Gardner Highway near Powell Drive in reference to a report of an unresponsive male turning purple.
Upon arrival, witnesses directed Police Officer Eric Hernandez to the male, later identified as Brandon Samler. Officer Hernandez, carrying NARCAN in his hand, observed Samler get on a grey colored ATV and attempted to stop Samler to ensure his safety and well-being. Upon doing so, Samler accelerated the ATV at the officer, causing him to jump out of harm's way. Samler fled towards the area of Beaver Meadows.
Officer Hernandez was unharmed. Hazleton Police Officers, along with surrounding jurisdictions including PSP Hazleton, Weatherly, and West Hazleton assisted in trying to locate the actor.
After the incident, members of the community crime watch reached out to the Hazleton Police as well as PSP Hazleton, providing information that led to the identification of the actor. One witness observed Samler in the area of Maple and Chestnut Street in Tresckow.
Officers from PSP Hazleton and Hazleton City responded to that area and subsequently took Samler into custody. His ATV was found at that location as well, and after obtaining a night time search warrant, approved by Judge Humanko, the ATV was seized by investigating Detective Sergeant Rodick.
During his arrest, while being searched, Samler was found to be in possession of 15 bags of heroin, which were hidden in his pants between his legs.
Samler is being charged with Aggravated Assault, Simple Assault, Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Possession of a Controlled Substance, and Drug Paraphernalia. He was transported to Luzerne County Correctional Facility for overnight arraignment. He currently has pending charges for a DUI crash from last month where he was found to be under the influence of narcotics at the time of the incident.
Statements of Hazleton City Police Chief Jerry Speziale:
"If you attempt to injure an officer we will cross an ocean and bring you back and face justice." "Clearly, I want to thank the community, crime watch and other law enforcement agencies because the coordination led to the arrest"
"The mission of the Hazleton City Police Department is to enhance the quality of life in our City by working in partnership with the community to enforce the law, preserve peace, reduce fear, and maintain order. The Hazleton Police Department is committed to accomplishing its mission of protecting the lives and property of all the citizens and visitors of Hazleton by treating everyone with compassion, courtesy, professionalism, and respect, while efficiently rendering public safety services and enforcing the laws impartially, by fighting crime both through deterrence and the relentless pursuit of criminals."