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Hospital Shooting Highlights Spokane’s Mental Health Needs

Police say Tuesday, Chris Henderson arrived at his wife Sheena Henderson’s work, at Deaconess Medical Center, and shot her, then himself. They had two children, who are now with relatives. Officers say this is an example of a regional need for mental health resources.

Law enforcement officers say since May, officers have gotten two calls that Chris Henderson was suicidal. The first time, Police Chief Frank Straub says Henderson had a firearm, officers brought him to a hospital for a mental health evaluation, and checked the firearm into police evidence. The second time, July 7th, sheriff’s deputies spoke with him in person, but Henderson indicated he was not suicidal so they had no grounds to detain him. Straub says that same afternoon, Henderson retrieved his firearm.

Straub: “That firearm was released to Mr. Henderson on July 7th, 2014 after, and I emphasize after, all record checks were completed and a waiver releasing the firearm was received from the Department of Health and Social Services.”

Henderson killed his wife and self the next day. Chief Straub says it was a domestic violence incident. Staci Cornwell with the organization Spokane Mental Health says when family or friends are concerned someone needs help, but will not seek it, her organization can assist.

Cornwell: “If they rise to a level of risk where they’re putting themselves in danger, or others in danger, or they’re not able to take care of their basic health and safety needs, then my team does have the authority to place them in involuntary detention at a hospital.”

From there, the patient’s needs and options for them are assessed. Straub and County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich say our region needs more financial support for mental health services, both from the state government and the local community. 

Copyright 2014 Spokane Public Radio

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