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Berks gunfire incident leads to discovery of home marijuana grow operation, troopers say

Aug. 11 – State police discovered an illegal marijuana grow in the basement of a Mertztown man’s residence after he responded to incidents in which he rang the doorbell and fired 10 shots after allegedly eating psychedelic mushrooms, investigators said.

The events took place on the first block of Barclay Street around 3 a.m. Wednesday and eventually drew members of Troop L’s narcotics unit to the village of Longswamp Township to search his home, Reading State Police said.

Michael D. Ryan, 23, was taken into custody at gunpoint when he stood naked in the middle of the street with two guns in his hand, one of which turned out to be a dummy gun, investigators said.

Because of his erratic behavior, medics sedated Ryan when he was taken into custody. He was taken to Lehigh Valley Hospital for treatment before being charged in Reading Central Court. District Judge Ann L. Young committed Ryan to Berks County Prison in lieu of $25,000 bail pending a preliminary hearing.

Ryan faces charges of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, firing a firearm into an occupied structure, indecent exposure, manufacturing with attempted delivery of marijuana and related counts.

According to the statement of probable cause:

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Troopers responded to reports of Ryan carrying pistols and firing bullets shortly before 3:30 a.m. A pair of agents from the Fogelsville, Lehigh County station arrived first and found Ryan standing naked in the street.

He was ordered to drop the weapons. He began to walk away from both troopers before dropping both pistols, one of which turned out to be fake.

Troopers took him into custody and medics administered drugs to calm him down.

Neighbors reported hearing a woman screaming from his residence, so troopers entered the house to look for possible victims.

During the home security check, they found equipment consistent with a clandestine marijuana growing operation: grow lights, a tent, air circulation equipment, humidifiers and two cannabis plants.

Later that morning, investigators obtained a search warrant and members of the vice and narcotics unit responded from Reading station at around 8am.

Narcotics agents seized the marijuana and growing equipment and supplies along with packaging materials.

Officers also seized a loaded AR-15, a .308 shotgun, and a loaded 9mm handgun with an extended magazine attached.

The investigation into the gunfire incident continued concurrently. Troopers spoke to several neighbors who said they were awakened by gunfire.

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A car parked on the street had five bullet holes along the passenger side.

Investigators spoke to a resident who said she was sitting on the couch watching television after work and began to fall asleep when she was startled by a few gunshots. A few seconds later she heard more shots.

She looked out the window and saw a man sitting on her doorstep. At first she thought the man was her neighbor.

She opened her door and asked if he had heard any gunshots. When he turned around, she realized it wasn’t her neighbor. It was Ryan.

Ryan asked her if she had a gun. She replied that she did not.

She asked him where he lives, and Ryan indicated his house was down the street. She told him to go.

She closed and locked her door. Ryan went to her backyard, undressed and jumped into her pool.

The woman called 911.

Another resident who lives closer to Ryan said she was sleeping upstairs with the window open when she heard explosions that seemed to come out of nowhere. She initially thought it was fireworks, but she heard more popping sounds followed by a woman’s scream, and realized they were gunshots.

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Troopers found the medical marijuana card of the woman they identified as Ryan’s girlfriend. With the help of troopers from the Schuylkill Haven station, investigators contacted the woman, whom they described as a victim, at her Schuylkill County home.

The woman, who was interviewed at the Schuylkill Haven station, told investigators that she and Ryan had eaten half a chocolate bar containing psilocybin mushrooms while she stayed at his residence the previous night. Around midnight, they went to a friend of Ryan’s house and consumed an entire psilocybin chocolate bar.

After returning to Ryan’s residence, he became agitated and violent towards her, grabbed her wrists, shoved her, and punched her in the face. He went outside and started screaming, ringing several doorbells and running up and down the street.

He got into the back of her car and grabbed a gun from the driver’s side door as she stood by the rear bumper.

He waved the gun and pointed it at her. She heard five or six shots as she ran to the house and locked the door.

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