Saturday, June 7, 2014
Seattle Pacific University was the next stop on the national shooting-spree parade.
We know the plot: untreated mentally ill person armed with guns and ammo drives to (fill in the blank) campus and starts shooting until (a) someone stops him, (b) he runs out of ammunition, or (c) he kills himself.
Only the location, body count, and the identities of the shooter and his victims change.
Police have arrested Aaron Ybarra for killing one student and injuring two others, one seriously. John Meis, 22, prevented more carnage by pepper spraying the shooter as he was reloading his weapon. Meis and two other students disarmed and physically restrained the shooter until police arrived and took him into custody.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is reporting,
A day after his deadly shooting spree at Seattle Pacific University, Aaron Ybarra has apologized as police claim he meant to harm many more people on the Queen Anne campus.
Ybarra, who killed one and shot two others Thursday, suffered from “delusions” at the time of the rampage, his attorney said Friday afternoon. Police say he had been planning a mass shooting and wanted to kill as many people as possible.
But Ybarra did not set off red flags with friends but appeared to have struggled with mental health and alcohol issues.
The 26-year-old Mountlake Terrace resident remains on suicide watch in King County Jail. He is being investigated for premeditated murder and assault, and has not yet been charged. King County prosecutors are expected to do so early next week.
Ybarra has had multiple contacts with police and mental health officials since 2010. The Christian Science Monitor reports,
In 2011, Ybarra took himself to an emergency room, telling staff that he got scared after hearing the voice of Columbine High School shooter Eric Harris in his head, telling him to hurt people. He was not detained.
He “feels he identifies with one of the Columbine killers, whom he identified as Eric Harris,” counselor Deldene J. Garner wrote later in a chemical dependency assessment filed in Edmonds Municipal Court, according to the Seattle Times.
To involuntarily commit someone, a qualified mental health expert must decide that a patient is a danger to himself or to others. The danger must be imminent as opposed to a non-specific future likelihood.
Involuntary commitments are limited to 72 hours and cannot be extended without the patient’s consent unless the danger to self or others is continuing. This rarely happens.
I am troubled by the 2011 incident because he went to the hospital on his own seeking help and was turned away. Hospital mental wards are not nice places to visit. People are unlikely to seek admission unless they are fearful, desperate and out of options. They are locked wards. Patients cannot come and go. I believe it’s irresponsible and possibly malpractice to turn away someone seeking help.
We will never know if the refusal to admit him played a role in his decision 3 years later to take a gun to school and shoot people. But, I will always wonder if he considered going to the hospital to get some help, but rejected the idea because he had been turned away previously.
Meanwhile, the killing continues unabated, the right-wing-hate-machine tells us to buy more guns, and we wait until next week to find out who the next victims will be.
I feel like I am living in an insane asylum.
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