A Long Beach man who was severely injured in a possible drug mishap last week was arrested and charged with first-degree reckless endangerment after police discovered a methamphetamine lab in a West Beech Street garage, triggering a massive emergency response that included agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Jovin Weinstock, 40, remained hospitalized and unconscious on Wednesday at South Nassau Communities Hospital, but was arrested on the felony charge just after 9 p.m. on May 10, according to Sgt. Brett Curtis, a spokesman for the Long Beach Police Department. Police said that a bedside arraignment would be held when Weinstock regained consciousness.
Police Commissioner Mike Tangney said that police and firefighters discovered a “fully functioning methamphetamine manufacturing laboratory” on May 10 in a garage in a side yard at Weinstock’s home on the 300 block of West Beech.
“It was an extremely dangerous and volatile situation,” Tangney said in a news release Tuesday announcing the arrest. “Our officers and firefighters followed their training to the letter and made the area as safe as possible while awaiting specialized units.”
Tangney emphasized that the investigation was continuing, and that Weinstock could face additional charges.
Police and firefighters rushed to the West End call at 8 a.m., and found Weinstock unconscious in a front yard. He was taken to South Nassau in serious condition with what appeared to be a head injury. While attempting to determine how Weinstock was injured — and if there were others who might have been injured at the scene — first responders discovered a “clandestine” chemical laboratory in a detached garage, police said.
“Materials were discovered that triggered a Hazmat response,” Curtis said. “Rescue units did back away from the area, which is consistent with their training. The Long Beach Fire Department, the Nassau County Police Department Emergency Service Unit and the Nassau County fire marshal’s office did a full assessment to determine how [Weinstock was] injured.”
The lab, police said, had an “active” source heating a liquid and what appeared to be a chemical process occurring. Nearby homes on West Beech and Penn streets were evacuated. Hundreds of emergency personnel converged on the scene, and Long Beach police said that the Nassau County police ESU and the fire marshal’s office disabled the heat source.
The NCPD’s arson and bomb squad, as well as a bomb disposal unit from the FBI, searched the residence and removed substances from it. DEA agents and a New York State Police Contaminated Crime Scene Emergency Response Team determined that the lab was being used to manufacture methamphetamine, police said.
“Over the course of several hours, the team dismantled the laboratory and removed chemicals and equipment,” police said in a news release. “. . . A very large quantity of chemicals, laboratory equipment and electronic devices were removed from the home.”
“It was a well-coordinated effort involving numerous police agencies,” Tangney told the Herald.
Several people said that Weinstock attended Long Beach High School. Police said it was unclear whether he sustained his injuries in the lab, while making the drug — possibly due to a fall from fainting or becoming lightheaded from fumes — or whether there was another cause, but said that investigators had ruled out an overdose.
It was also unclear whether Weinstock — who police said was a former lab technician and lived with his parents — was making the drug for personal use or for sale. “The size of the operation didn’t appear to be commercial,” Tangney said.
A call to Weinstock’s home was not immediately returned, and a defense attorney was not yet listed in the case. Tangney said that Weinstock had been arrested and charged with criminal possession of a weapon for an incident on the boardwalk “years ago,” but police could not immediately provide the date of that charge, for which Weinstock was convicted.
The Long Beach Fire Department advised people to avoid West Beech Street, between Laurelton and Lafayette boulevards, for hours as the investigation continued. The road was opened later that night, but investigators remained at the scene through early Saturday morning, Curtis said.
The incident had residents on edge and came as a shock to many, who described a quiet neighborhood that includes a number of historic homes and well-manicured lawns. One woman on West Beech Street, who declined to give her name, said she was taking care of her mother, who lives nearby, when she saw all the emergency vehicles and news media.
“I grew up here, and wouldn’t expect this to be happening in Long Beach,” she said.
“I thought maybe someone was hit by a car or something because usually stuff like that doesn’t happen around here — there’s never really any crimes or anything like that,” said Natalie Samoroukova, 20. “This is very shocking, because this neighborhood is very safe. I grew up here. The neighborhood is usually quiet — lots of kids running around, very safe. I’m very surprised.”
But Jose Martinez, who lives next door to the Weinstocks, said that he wasn’t surprised when he saw police and firefighters that day, and that he has seen police at the Weinstock home a number of times over the years. Police said that officers and firefighters have responded to emergency calls at the home in the past, but were not aware of any complaints by neighbors.
Martinez said that he and his wife were forced to evacuate for about 16 hours during the investigation. “The neighbors were not surprised,” said Martinez, who has lived there for 16 years. “Of course we were worried because there’s chemicals in the garage. I fought to get out of Hell’s Kitchen to get a beautiful house in Long Beach, and I wind up next door to a meth lab.”