By Patrick Lester
Morning Call (Allentown, Pennsylvania)
Standing nearly naked in the cold after crashing his car in Bedminster Township last week, a Montgomery County man insisted someone poured acid on him and torched his car, then he beat up a paramedic after an ambulance crew came to his aid, police said. While investigators say there was no proof Joseph E. Nero, 33, of Norristown was in any danger, they say there was enough evidence to charge him with assault and related offenses. Police said Nero may have been hallucinating after a two-day drug binge when he crashed his car on Applebutter Road last Friday afternoon.
Nero, who was taken to Doylestown Hospital for a mental health evaluation, was charged Monday with aggravated assault and related offenses after police said he attacked Eli Metzgar, a paramedic with Point Pleasant-Plumsteadville Ambulance squad, who suffered minor injuries. Nero was arraigned Tuesday before Ottsville District Judge M. Kay DuBree and sent to Bucks County Prison under $25,000 bail.
Officers were called to the rear parking lot of Penn Engineering at 5161 Applebutter Road to investigate the report of a partially clothed man who crashed his car and was behaving “bizarrely,” according to court papers filed at District Court in Ottsville. When officers arrived, they saw Nero, clad only in his boxer shorts, standing in the 40-degree temperature outside the rear of the business. Nero, who had cuts and bruises on his hands and upper body, told police he took off his clothes because someone poured acid on him and someone was trying to kill him, according to court records. Later, at the hospital, he told investigators he had been driving around for two days while binging on cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana.
Police said they saw no evidence that Nero was doused with acid or that someone was trying to kill him. When medics from Point Pleasant-Plumsteadville Ambulance arrived, Nero went into the ambulance but became agitated, reiterating that someone was trying to kill him and saying he “had to go,” court records state. Nero then charged Metzgar and tried to push the paramedic out of his way, police said. When Metzgar tried to open a door to get out of the ambulance, Nero punched him in the chest. After getting out of the ambulance, Nero tried to get into the ambulance cab, but Metzgar was able to pull him out before officers grabbed him.
After impounding his vehicle, investigators found what they believe was cocaine residue in a plastic bag near the driver’s seat. Nero was also charged with simple assault, disorderly conduct, drug possession and harassment.