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Pit bulls attack officer, K9 during heroin bust in Latrobe

| Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A Latrobe police officer and the city's K-9 officer, Rocky, suffered minor injuries Saturday afternoon when they were bitten by a pair of pit bulls during a heroin bust on Weldon Street.

Bruce Thompkins, 43, and Michelle Muck, 32, were charged with several drug-related offenses after Latrobe police and members of the Westmoreland County Drug Task Force seized 95 stamp bags of heroin, $680 in cash and drug paraphernalia from the house.

The stamp bags, all marked “The Joker,” have a combined street value of around $2,500 according to Latrobe Police Chief James Bumar.

Thompkins was charged with manufacture of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Muck was charged with manufacture or possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Muck and Thompkins were arraigned in night court before Monessen District Justice Joseph Dalfonso, who set bond at $25,000 each. Both are being held in the county prison.

The drug task force initiated an investigation of suspected drug activity at the Weldon Street address in late March after an incident in which Thompkins accused a neighbor, city Councilman Robert Forish, of threatening him with a gun during an argument on Forish's front porch.

Forish allegedly photographed Thompkins' house and accused him of “selling dope,” according to documents charging Forish with simple assault and reckless endangerment.

On five separate dates since then, police observed Muck and Thompkins meeting briefly with known drug users in business parking lots throughout Latrobe, police allege.

On Saturday, Muck, through an intermediary, sold six stamp bags to a confidential informant, according to police.

Officer Joseph Angus was bitten on the foot by one of the two pit bulls at the house before police killed the dog.

That dog's brain is being tested for rabies because Thompkins and Muck did not have the proper paperwork to confirm whether it had been vaccinated. Hoffman Kennels removed the second pit bull, according to police.

Angus is awaiting test results to determine whether he will need to undergo rabies treatments, Bumar said.

Rocky is “doing fine,” according to Bumar.

“He's on antibiotics and they have to watch to make sure the wound doesn't get infected,” Bumar said. “It was like a tear in the lower lip area and a puncture wound on the opposite-side cheek.”

Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at (724) 459-6100, ext. 2913 or greinbold@tribweb.com.

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