South Omaha shooter had toxic amount of meth in his system -
Published Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 12:00 am / Updated at 3:15 am
South Omaha shooter had toxic amount of meth in his system

The gunman who rocked a South Omaha neighborhood June 15, killing two people and injuring two others, didn't just have a dose of methamphetamine in his system, he had a toxic amount.

In fact, it was one of the highest amounts a Nebraska laboratory has seen.

Henry Nipper, director of toxicology at the Creighton University Medical Center, said Jorge Abraham Zarazua-Rubio had 2,765 nanograms of meth per milliliter of blood. Roughly translated, that's at least 14 times the amount meth users typically injects into their veins.

“It's an extremely high amount,” said Nipper, who has been director for 27 years. “An amount that we know can make you paranoid and violent and erratic.”

By comparison, Nipper pointed to the 2005 deaths of Creighton University student Janelle Hornickel and her boyfriend, Michael Wamsley. The couple died in the snow in Sarpy County after ingesting meth, acting erratically, becoming disoriented and being unable to tell dispatchers where they were. The amount of meth in Hornickel's system was 495 nanograms per milliliter; Wamsley's was 127 per milliliter.

Nipper said an early study on violent meth-related deaths found that the users had between 1,400 and 13,000 nanograms per milliliter.

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said the amount of meth helps explain a rampage by a man authorities know little about. The 25-year-old Zarazua-Rubio was born in Mexico, and authorities haven't released when or how he came to Omaha.

“It's such a high concentration; it would be extremely toxic,” Kleine said. “Certainly it tells a part of the story.”

Blitzed with meth, Zarazua-Rubio became a serial shooter that Saturday afternoon.

Zarazua-Rubio knew only his first victim; the rest were shot at random over a 30-minute span.

About 2 p.m., Zarazua-Rubio confronted Aaron Anderson, 31, who was shot at his apartment building at 3104 Hascall St. Anderson is slowly recovering and is now in a rehabilitation center.

About 20 minutes later, the second victim, Angel Cabrera, 46, was wounded at 3901 S. 33rd St. He was expected to survive.

Pascual Bautista-Raymundo, 25, was shot a few minutes later at 3309 E St. He was found in an alley and died later at Creighton University Medical Center.

Shortly after Bautista-Raymundo was shot, Anthony Vazzano, 25, was shot while mowing a lawn near 34th and F Streets. He also died at Creighton.

In all, Zarazua-Rubio covered a mile before Omaha Police Officer Coral Walker shot and killed him along Dahlman Avenue, south of F Street.

Authorities found methamphetamine at the apartment that Anderson shared with his girlfriend, Kleine said. The girlfriend has been charged with possession of a controlled substance.

Nipper said he was unable to determine how or exactly when Zarazua-Rubio ingested the meth.

And Nipper had one caveat to the measurement of meth in Zarazua-Rubio's system: Coroner's physicians had to draw the blood from Zarazua-Rubio's torso outside of his organs, perhaps because he had bled out of his arteries.

In turn, Nipper didn't have an apples-to-apples comparison of the gunman's blood vs. another meth user's intravenous blood.

Even so, Nipper said, amounts “in the neighborhood of 500 to 1,000 to 2,000 nanograms” can be deadly.

“I can't tell you whether or not he was on a binge,” Nipper said, “but I can tell you this: We've seen people with substantially less (meth) in their system, and even in those cases, we've seen behavior that is amazing.”

Contact the writer: Todd Cooper    |   402-444-1275

Todd covers courts and legal issues for The World-Herald.

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