I’m in the process of trying to catch up on stories that I’ve fallen way behind on due to other stories taking precedence or because of my real-life responsibilities and this is one of them. It deals with 18-year-old Sammie Chavez who was arrested for plotting a school shooting attack against Bartlesville High School in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Chavez was arrested on the same day as the Newtown tragedy, but before that shooting took place. You can see my original post on Chavez here.
Not too long after his arrest back in December Chavez’s mother came out to the media saying that her son would never plan any such kind of violence.
Jessie Chavez said her son has symptoms of possible mental illnesses – including depression, bipolar disorder and multiple personalities – and had been seeing a therapist. She believes that the thought came during a fleeting swing in emotions.
“Deep down, I don’t think my son would have done this,” she said. “That’s not my son. My son laughs and makes jokes. He’s always pulling pranks.”
If her son does, in fact, have deep-seated mental issues such as MPD then she has my sympathy, however, let’s take a look at the evidence.
Police allege that Sammie Chavez attempted to recruit other students Dec. 12 to help him lure people into the school’s auditorium, where he said he would open fire after chaining the doors and placing bombs to detonate when police arrived.
A court affidavit says Chavez used school computers to research pipe bombs and the Columbine High School mass shooting.
Police later seized a Marlin 99 M1 .22-caliber semiautomatic rifle from his home, as well as journals, notes, drawings, photographs of students cut out of a newspaper, two swords, a set of brass knuckles and marijuana.
This sounds far from a prank to me.
However, this does open the argument about mental healthcare and the rights of the individual in this country. If someone is criminally insane and a potential danger to the surrounding public, there’s not a lot anyone can do until that person actually acts on those impulses.
UPDATE 5/14/2013: Speaking of mental illness Chavez has been deemed competent to stand trial.
He’s also pleaded not guilty.
UPDATE 9/24/2013: Earlier today Chavez was convicted of planning to perform an act of violence. He was acquitted on the conspiracy charges. He’s looking at 30 months behind bars.
UPDATE 11/14/2013: Chavez was sentenced to 30 months behind bars after the sentence was recommended to the judge by a jury. He will also be credited for time served. It seems a little light to me but if he truly does have mental illnesses I hope he can get the help he needs before he acts on these violent impulses.