Westmoreland jail inmate charged with assaulting guard

·2 min read

Jun. 11—A Baltimore man in the Westmoreland County Prison awaiting trial on allegations that he was involved in transporting synthetic marijuana through the county in 2019 is now charged with assaulting a prison guard.

Jamal Mohammed Alzanam, 32, is charged by county detectives with aggravated assault on a prison guard and simple assault. According to court documents, Alzanam "became irate" on Feb. 10 as he was being booked into the Hempfield jail after being transferred from Delaware County, where he was being held in an unrelated DUI case.

Witnesses said the guard who was injured attempted to calm Alzanam during the process, but the inmate repeatedly punched the guard in his face, Detective James Williams reported. It took four officers to eventually contain and handcuff Alzanam, who is being held on $50,000 bond.

On April 29, 2019, Alzanam was among three Baltimore men arrested by state police for possessing a powerful synthetic marijuana in a Toyota Camry while they were traveling westbound on Interstate 70 through the county, according to court papers.

Alzanam was ordered in April to stand trial on charges of possession with intent to deliver, transportation of a designer drug and drug paraphernalia, according to court dockets.

Troopers traveling behind the Camry at 12:10 a.m. noticed it weaving and following a tractor-trailer too closely, according to court papers. During a traffic stop off the Smithton exit in South Huntingdon, police said the men appeared to be under the influence of a controlled substance.

Alzanam was a backseat passenger along with Ali Mezher Al-Mashhadani, 27, police said. Raymond Maurice Fitzhugh Jr., 54, was identified as the driver of the rental car.

Complaints were dismissed against Al-Mashhadani, another passenger in the car, after a hearing in March, according to court dockets.

Alzanam told investigators the group was traveling to Illinois to visit family, according to police reports.

During a search of the car, police said they found a large black bag in the trunk with nearly 1,500 packages of synthetic marijuana.

Synthetic marijuana, also known as spice and K2, is created in a laboratory and can cause elevated heart rate, seizures and hallucinations, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Fitzhugh.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, ppeirce@triblive.com or via Twitter .