School Closings & Delays

Some Drug Deaths Ruled Homicides in Columbia County

BLOOMSBURG -- Columbia County is the latest to vow a crackdown on the deadly heroin epidemic. Deal drugs to someone who dies in Columbia County and you could face charges in connection with the death.

Officials in Columbia County did not waste any time doing this, either. A 30-year-old man was charged with involuntary manslaughter after police say he supplied someone with drugs, and that person died. The coroner says he decides if a drug-related death is a homicide and lets police take it from there.

Ahmed Ragab, 28, left his house on August 13 but never came home. His family found him in a parking lot near Bloomsburg. He was dead inside his vehicle with traces of heroin around him. Hemlock Township police found text messages between Ragab and Sean Michaels. The messages discussed a drug deal. Columbia County Coroner Jeremy Reese ruled Ragab's death a homicide, and this past weekend, Michaels was arrested on charges including drug delivery resulting in death.

Officials in Columbia County say they've ruled three of the county's 19 drug-related deaths this year as homicides.

"If we're able to prove that someone was the cause of that death, then we are certainly going to move forward with those charges," Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Reimiller said.

The people we spoke with agree it's a good idea to prosecute the drug dealers because while it may not stop the problem, it could help it.

"That's where all of this is coming from. If we eliminate them then we will eliminate the problem. Well, not completely, but enough that not many people will die," Renee Markle said.

"But at the same time, you have addicts who are going to go to great lengths to get these drugs regardless, so it's all in all a sticky situation. I don't know how it's going to turn out," Sydney Campbell said.

Jessica Mowery of Orangeville had a friend die from an overdose earlier this year. Even though her friend's death was not a homicide, she wants tougher punishment for drug dealers.

"They might not be addicted themselves, but they're preying on these people who are addicted and they're taking it and they're dying," Mowery said.

Coroner Jeremy Reese says if you know someone with a drug problem -- or who is dealing -- get them help and do not wait.

"It doesn't mean calling the police and getting them in trouble. Try to get them into rehab, befriend them, monitor them. You just have to watch them and try to help them any way you can," Reese said.

Another man in the Bloomsburg area faces similar charges for allegedly dealing heroin to a man who died. A third death was ruled a homicide and several more drug-related deaths are under investigation in Columbia County.


  • Paul Gottshall

    After moving to Denver almost 4 years ago, a huge portion of my Bloomsburg friends developed hard drug addictions. We always used to smoke weed back in the day and it was always good enough – we were never yearning for the “next big high.” I feel very strongly that MJ would still be enough for a lot of these addicts out there, but when it’s easier and cheaper to get heroin, then you get good people dying or ruining their lives over hard drugs.

    Legalize cannabis for adults! There is literally no downside to doing so, unless you’re the CEO of a tobacco, alcohol, or pharmaceutical company. People are buying the drugs anyways – they always have and they always will. We should pull our heads out of the sand and collect tax money on it. The state could easily regulate the market, as Colorado has shown, and it will put a giant damper on people’s exposure to harder drugs. I can’t go into a dispensary here in Denver and get a joint and a bindle of heroin, but that’s exactly what it’s like when people are forced to go to a dealer on the black market. Cannabis doesn’t have the best margins for dealers, so they’ll usually diversify their offerings with harder, and addictive, stuff that has better earning potential.


    This is great! We get to kill two goons with one stone, so to speak. The worthless junkie dies and is no longer a burden on our society and we get to toss the illegal dope dealer goon back over the wall to what ever deplorable third world territory they came from. Such strong leader ship from President Trump will only make this plan work.

    • kir

      Your REALLY that ignorant? You have no clue about the Disease of Addiction? That “worthless junkie”is someones son, brother, and grandson. Get your mind right and your facts straight before you make un-educated comments.

  • laura

    oh jeez someone wants attention…… why waste tax payer money to prosecute when these people did it to themselves? other than the DA wants to get his name out there as being tough on drugs. most of us just don’t care. public service is more accurate than murder

  • Valfreyja

    Oh look, the failed drug war is digging in despite all evidence to the contrary. This is what happens when you elect rubes to be governors. Countdown until this explodes int heir face in 3..2..1..

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