(File photo)

Five adults were found dead in a Colorado apartment Sunday after officials say they consumed a deadly amount of fentanyl apparently believing it was cocaine. Another adult and a 4-month-old child were alive inside the unit.

The three women and two men died so quickly after ingesting the drugs that they were unable to call 911 or help each other, 17th Judicial District Attorney Brian Mason said Monday. Their bodies were on the floor near a mirror with lines of drugs arranged on it, he said. 

“Fentanyl is dangerous. It’s lethal and fast,” Mason said. “The crime scene last night looked like multiple homicides.”

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid considered 10 times more deadly than heroin, has resulted in a surge of deaths in Colorado and is now the leading cause of fatal overdoses in the state. 

Last year, 736 people died from fentanyl across Colorado, up from 540 in 2020, latest data from the state health department show. Officials expect that number to grow, citing a three-month delay, as overdose death data is finalized.

Mason, who was at the scene Sunday, is working alongside Commerce City police and North Metro Drug Task Force. The Drug Enforcement Administration is also investigating, at Mason’s request.

“It is rare for the DEA to be involved at this stage in an investigation, but given the number of deaths and the huge crisis that fentanyl is posing to Colorado, we want them to be involved and they want to be involved,” Mason said.  

Police in Commerce City responded to a call about 3:45 p.m. about several unconscious adults at the North Range Crossings Apartments in the suburb 7 miles northeast of Denver. When they entered the apartment, they found six adults and an infant.

“While they thought that most of them were unconscious, one of the parties was awake and was transported by medical,” Commerce City Police Chief Clint Nichols said. The infant was also transported to a hospital.

The infant appears to be OK, Nichols said. He said it was unclear if the baby’s parents were among the deceased adults found in the apartment.

He said the adult was “lucid” and talking to police.

The names and ages of all the victims were not immediately available. The investigation is ongoing. The coroner’s office will determine the cause of death, pending toxicology results.

Mason said these types of investigations are “complicated and hard.”

“We want to get to the bottom of what happened,” Mason said. “I think this investigation is going to take a while, but we’re going to do as much as we can to get to the bottom of what happened.” 

While fatal fentanyl overdoses are skyrocketing across Colorado, there have only been a few death charges

Last month, a Longmont man was charged with manslaughter after a woman died from swallowing a pill marketed as oxycodone but actually containing fentanyl. Sammy Valdez, 21, who allegedly sold the pill to the woman’s boyfriend, is at least the second person charged under a state law holding a person responsible for a fatal fentanyl poisoning.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Olivia Prentzel

Olivia Prentzel is a general assignment writer for The Colorado Sun. Email: oliviaprentzel@coloradosun.com