Police sickened by chemical fumes at hotel where body found

Three DeKalb County police officers were taken to a hospital Saturday after they were overcome by chemical fumes while investigating a dead body at an extended-stay motel.

The officers were conscious and alert at the hospital and are expected to recover, said Shiera Campbell, a spokeswoman for the DeKalb police. Authorities are not treating the death as a homicide, she said.

Sometime before 4:15 p.m., Campbell said, authorities received a “person-down” call from the United Inn and Suites on Memorial Drive, just east of I-285.

Firefighters arrived first and discovered a man’s body in a third-floor room overlooking the motel’s parking lot. When the three police officers arrived, they soon felt sick and called for medical assistance.

Other officers soon evacuated nearby rooms as a precaution. More than two hours later, other residents milled around on the motel’s balconies, cordoned off by yellow crime-scene tape. Children ran and played amid the police cars and firetrucks.

No other residents suffered any effects, Campbell said.

Authorities declined to identify the victim. He was a resident of the motel, but police have not determined how long he had lived there.

The DeKalb County medical examiner’s office was on the scene late Saturday afternoon and will perform an autopsy.

Police think the man died from whatever chemical was present in his room, Campbell said.

Capt. Eric Jackson of the DeKalb fire department said officials had taken “samples” of a substance in the room, but he declined to elaborate.

“Something in there made the officers sick,” Jackson said. “We have no idea what, none whatsoever.”

The firefighters who found the body left the room immediately and did not become ill, he said.

Police do not believe the man’s death was a homicide, Campbell said, but she said it was not clear yet whether his exposure to the unknown chemical was by accident or was a suicide.