BRODHEADSVILLE, Pa. - So-called "bath salts" have claimed another life. The newly-banned synthetic drug apparently led to a deadly hostage standoff Thursday in Brodheadsville, Monroe County. State Police shot and killed 29 year-old Rob Kish after he allegedly took his mother and two others hostage at gunpoint.
"He was a good kid, and that's what I want everyone to know," said Kish's aunt, Shirley Kluska.
Those who knew Kish said he kind of guy you'd want to take fishing. But he made bad decisions. His family said he got hooked on drugs -- taking and selling them. During the standoff, they believe he was high on so-called "bath salts," a hallucinogenic synthetic drug just banned in Pennsylvania.
Just hours before the standoff, Kish's mother Peggy had filed a protection from abuse order against him for acting erratically. According to State Police, he returned with a gun, holding her and two others hostage.
"He held them all hostage," said Mersim Sebovic, a neighbor who grew up with Kish. "I mean, how could you hold your mother hostage?"
Once state troopers arrived, they said Kish shot at them.
"The marked patrol unit was struck as well as one of the troopers was struck with we believe one of the pellets from a shotgun blast," said Lt. Robert Bartal with Pennsylvania State Police.
The trooper suffered minor injuries to the forehead and was released from Palmerton Hospital.
Kish wasn't done, though. Bartal said Kish then set his mother's house on fire, used her home health care nurse as a human shield, and finally pointed a gun at troopers. When Kish refused to surrender, troopers killed him with four shots to the torso and extremities.
"With the weapon, he'd already shown that he was going to use the weapon," said Bartal. "In fact, he fired at a marked car and uniformed officers."
Relatives say Kish was addicted to so-called bath salts.
"The bath salts -- look what it did to this house," said Kluska, through tears. "If he wouldn't have had bath salts, it would've never happened."
Kish had a criminal record, but nothing violent. Relatives said he tried to get help recently for his drug problems, but a local rehab center was full.
"He tried to get help and nobody would help him," said Kluska.
Kish's mother, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, is staying with relatives for now. Friday afternoon, the Monroe County District Attorney determined that state troopers were justified in killing Kish. Troopers also confirm they had responded to a domestic disturbance call at the home on Wednesday, but did not charge anyone.
Allentown, PA 18102
- Berks Tim Lind / 69 News