Four months to the day after John Cramsey’s daughter died of a heroin overdose, he packed his monster truck full of guns and took off for New York City to rescue a young woman whose friend had just OD’d next to her.
The Pennsylvania man was arrested with friends Dean Smith and Kimberly Arendt by Port Authority police in the Holland Tunnel on Tuesday after officers pulled over the modified Dodge Ram pickup truck for a cracked windshield. They told police they were on on a rescue mission.
“Shoot your local heroin dealer,” read one of the ammo boxes recovered from the truck. A camouflage helmet and at least seven other weapons were recovered, including long guns.
A law enforcement source told The Daily Beast that a woman who had overdosed in Brooklyn called friends in Pennsylvania after she woke up next to another woman who was dead. The friends jumped in the Dodge Ram, emblazoned with the name of a Pennsylvania gun range, Higher Ground Tactical, and took off for New York.
Cramsey, who is from Zionsville, Pennsylvania, near Allentown, recently posted photos of himself with a similar truck on his Facebook page. Cramsey’s 20-year-old daughter, Alexandria, died from a heroin overdose in February, friends told The Daily Beast.
Cramsey repeatedly posted about his daughter’s death and the battle against heroin. In one post in late February, he described himself as “an addict”—for his daughter.
“Now, I want to personally address the confusion of why we proudly display the ‘SHOOT YOUR LOCAL HEROIN DEALER’ decals,” he wrote. “Who are you to judge me for my opinion?"
“Grow up and either get involved... or get out of here!” he added.
On Tuesday morning, Cramsey posted about his upcoming adventures in Enough Is Enough, an anti-heroin group he’d co-founded after his daughter’s death.
“I’m currently 11 miles outside of Brooklyn New York and going to a hotel to extract a 16 year old girl who went up there to Party with a few friends,” he wrote. “One of those friends she went up there with will not be returning . This young lady from Wilkes Barre is scared and wants to come home.”
Cramsey posted photos of the young woman he wanted to rescue, of himself and his friends, and of the view out his car window.
“I’m bringing her out of NY today and anybody else in that hotel that wants to go home too,” he boasted. “NO ....SLEEP ....TILL BROOKLYN !”
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey did not respond to a request for comment, and attempts to reach Cramsey were unsuccessful.
Lyn Baker, a co-founder of Enough Is Enough, told The Daily Beast that she had no idea of Cramsey’s plans and only found out when her daughter saw news of the arrest on Fox News.
“Mom, did your friend get arrested?” the girl asked.
Baker said Cramsey always carried a loaded gun with him in Pennsylvania, but she had never seen as many weapons as when she Googled the incident on Tuesday.
“But I could identify that helmet,” she added.
Cramsey’s daughter, an aspiring model who had done some work in Latin America, died just days before Baker first met Cramsey at a local town meeting.
“I had never lost a child to heroin overdose, but John just had,” Baker recalled. “He asked me if I would be interested in starting a group.”
Together, they spread awareness about the effects of heroin in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. The Facebook group for their cause recently reached 1,000 members. But recently, Baker said she noticed that Cramsey hadn’t been sleeping and that he was getting more adventurous with his rescue efforts.
“About a week ago, he started posting very cryptic posts. He felt like he was superman, like he could go and save these people,” she said. “And I had told him I was stepping away from the group.”
In the wake of the arrests, Baker said she is worried about how the potential fallout might affect her and the credibility of the group she’s worked so hard to build.
“I got a call from an attorney who said basically, ‘Brace yourself,’ because as a co-founder of the group, I will soon be under investigation,” she added. “And I’m just a housewife, trying to save kids from heroin.”
John Berthel, a friend of Cramsey’s, told The Daily Beast that rescue attempts like Tuesday’s were becoming increasingly common as Cramsey crusaded to get heroin users into rehab. Berthel said he first realized his friend had been arrested when he recognized the guns being shown on TV as ones Cramsey had custom built.
“He’s a great guy. He’s the type to give the shirt off his back to anyone,” Berthel said. “He was in a rush to help somebody, to do good.”
In the Lehigh Valley, Berthel said, driving around with guns in your car is perfectly legal. He said he believes traveling across state lines with the loaded weapons was just a “mistake” on Cramsey’s part.
On Tuesday, authorities in Brooklyn found the 16-year-old whom Cramsey had been seeking to rescue, along with the body of a 19-year-old woman who had fatally overdosed, a law enforcement source told The Daily Beast.
Michelle Plocinik, the mother of Kimberly Walker, 29, who was arrested with Cramsey, says her daughter knew the girl they were going to rescue from a camp for troubled youth. A recovering addict herself, Walker had worked hard to spread heroin awareness, even organizing a fundraiser and contacting Cramsey’s group.
“My daughter went to help,” Plocinik said. “She is part of a team that is trying to get drugs off the street.”
It’s not yet clear what charges Walker, who has an 8-year-old daughter, might face.
“[The guns] weren’t hers,” Plocinik said. “She hasn’t even shot a gun.”