Drug abuse exacted a high toll in a Black Rock apartment early Thursday morning. Two men died of apparent drug overdoses, and their female companion nearly died.
Two days earlier, police had responded to the same address, 233 Dearborn St., for an apparent suicide attempt. William E. Pollard's heart had stopped beating, but he suddenly revived, and authorities left the scene, according to his landlord.
But there was no such luck Thursday.
Official autopsy results on Pollard, 53, and Louis Chicone, 34, are pending toxicology results. The 41-year-old woman, who neighbors said stopped breathing after she was taken from the rear apartment, remains in Erie County Medical Center. Her condition was unavailable late Thursday.
Authorities say there are indications prescription medication may have been involved.
Two contrasting images of Pollard emerge, depending on which of his neighbors were talking Thursday afternoon on Dearborn, between Amherst and Hamilton streets.
Some said he was a kindly man who hobbled along with the help of a cane because of a bad back and that he went out of his way to be friendly to children in the neighborhood, often giving them dollar bills.
"It's funny. On Wednesday he saw my boy and gave him a dollar and told him, 'I need you tomorrow to help me move some boxes. I'm moving out of here,' " Kesha Jones said.
But Joe Cutezo, the landlord, who lives upstairs from the rear first-floor apartment Pollard shared with his longtime companion, Darlene J. Maracle, said Pollard was a deadbeat who failed to pay the rent and was moving because he had been evicted.
"I was afraid they'd burn the place down, and we live right upstairs," Cutezo said. "There was a constant flow of traffic to the rear apartment."
Other neighbors say 233 Dearborn, in recent years, has turned into a "crack house," a criticism Cutezo says is false, though he admits there have been problems because of tenants.
"They come looking for an apartment and are as sweet as pie telling all kinds of stories, then they change," he said.
That aside, police records show that Pollard had a history of involvement in drugs. He and Maracle, 51, were arrested last November when they lived on the West Side.
After narcotics detectives forced down the door to their upper apartment on the first block of Danforth Street, detectives discovered a ceramic plate with a straw and white powdery residue identified as heroin.
A powerful tranquilizer without a prescription also was found, along with packaging material used for the sale of illegal drugs, police said. The couple was charged with criminal possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia.
Late last year, police were summoned to another apartment they resided in on Germain Street in Black Rock after a 911 burglary call. A thief had stolen the prescription painkiller OxyContin from their residence.
In February, Pollard and Maracle moved into the Dearborn Street apartment, returning to Pollard's roots, according to neighbor Steve Gabor, who grew up on the street and had known him for years in that neighborhood.
"I saw him yesterday. He was an outgoing guy. I feel really bad," Gabor said, adding he found it hard to believe Pollard would abuse drugs. "He didn't seem like a person who would do that."