Once More Into the Breach

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I used to watch TV news and yell at the box. Now I jump up from the couch, sit at the computer and begin to type laughing maniacally saying "Wait until they read this." It's more fun than squashing tadpoles

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Fairfax Killer Had Fled Psychiatric Center

On Monday May 8, Michael W. Kennedy attacked the Sully District police station in Fairfax County, VA killing Detective Vicky O. Armel and severely wounding Officer Michael E. Garbarino. No motive has been discovered nor will be since Mr. Kennedy was shot dead on the scene. From the events leading to this senseless act of violence Mr. Kennedy was another nut job that no one who could have done something did.

Our society has abandoned the concept that people who exhibit anti social behavior need supervision. Even when they begin to engage in criminal behavior there is no serious attempt at intervention. Over and over again I read these stories of people who's friends family and government authorities discount or excuse behavior that signals impending tragedy.

Following is a synopsis of events that led to Mr. Kennedy's attack on the police station from The Washington Post:

... In February, he was arrested for accidentally shooting and wounding his family's dog. Sources familiar with the investigation said he told police he was suicidal but decided against killing himself and then accidentally fired a handgun...

...Police are investigating why Kennedy voluntarily checked himself into the Potomac Ridge Behavioral Health Center, the psychiatric treatment facility in Rockville, on April 18. Less than seven hours later, he broke a window and escaped.

Officials at Potomac Ridge declined to say why they were treating him, and they also would not comment on the escape. They issued a statement saying they did not have contact with Kennedy after he left the facility.

Immediately after escaping, at 6:49 p.m., Kennedy approached a man in a Toyota 4Runner sport-utility vehicle and told the driver he had a gun. The man gave the vehicle to Kennedy, who drove it to Virginia, police say.

Later that night, Kennedy turned himself in at the Sully District station on the carjacking charge. He was extradited to Montgomery County on April 21.

The next day, Montgomery County District Court Commissioner Jonathan Lew set bond at $30,000 after reviewing a detective's summary describing Kennedy's escape and the carjacking, court records show.

It's important to note that a $30,000 bond can be met with a deposit of $3,000. It would not take much scrutiny to determine that keeping Mr. Kennedy off the street would be a good thing so a larger bail would be appropriate. Escaping from a mental institution and car jacking are what some people would consider clues. More disturbing however is the family's negligence after he confession of intending suicide to put the guns under lock and key.

One cannot stop a person who wishes to kill themselves or someone else when they give little warning. But once they try, they express a desire or they go on medication that places them at risk one has an obligation to do certain things. One precaution is to lock up the guns. When a person checks into a mental health facility and then breaks a window to escape and commits a violent crime, don't let them wander the streets. This comment from the Montgomery County Maryland Administrative Commissioner Charles Peters:

... Lew had set "an appropriate bond for the case and the charge."

commissioners have "no authority to order any psychiatric evaluations" of suspects brought before them. Peters said commissioners are instructed to set a bond that will ensure that a suspect returns to face charges and not as a punitive measure.

That is not entirely true. Bond is also to prevent a suspect who is a danger to the community or a risk of flight from doing either of the two. Take for an example the situation in Virginia.

[Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr.] said Kennedy probably would not have been free on bond in Virginia. "Most carjackings in this jurisdiction, you don't get a bond," the longtime prosecutor said

Mental disorders are unfortunate and the people who suffer from them need help not cover. Sometimes that help is simply making sure they take their medication, but other times it requires separation from the general public. It is not punishment to confine a person to protect themselves and others. It sometimes is necessary to save their own and other's lives.

Basil's Real Clear Politics topix


Anonymous brokengun said...

Sadly, the arguments seem to be centered around the firearms ownership issue.
This young man is perhaps an object lesson of what our current society is doing to our progeny.
It was bad when prayer was taken from the schools, but it was disasterous when Mom was taken from the home. The daycare generation of youth who feel unwanted is the root of many of our troubles.

9:21 PM  

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