Posted: Feb 20, 2013 5:30 PM by Olivia LaBorde
Updated: Feb 20, 2013 5:30 PM
BATON ROUGE - Lawmakers, law enforcement and health professionals met today in Baton Rouge to discuss links between mental health issues and gun violence, and how to solve them.
People in Baton Rouge tell News 2 it's an issue they've had to struggle with for some time.
"Nobody reported it, nobody paid attention, now when it happened everybody's talking," says Nathan B.
He remembers that many in his Alsen neighborhood noticed Darnell Mealey acted strangely more than a year ago when 75-year-old James spears was shot to death. Investigators said 24-year-old Mealey, Spears' grandson, killed him.
"You heard about things might have been happening down there before; but you never even concerned your self about it because you never thought anything like this would happen," says Nathan B.
Mealey's twin sister, Danielle tells News 2 that her brother is schizophrenic. She says it's an illness he's been suffering from since childhood.
"We have a large number of mental people making bad decisions because their judgment is off," says Tweety Hebert.
Hebert, director of Baton Rouge crime reduction program BRAVE, spoke at the symposium hosted by Congressman Bill Cassidy and Senator Sharon Weston Broome today. The group discussed how mental illness affects the rising crime rate.
Hebert quoted an an LSU study which says 74 percent of of incarcerated juveniles have some sort of mental illness.
"We know we need help. We need social services we need members of the community to come together as one so we can address the problem," adds Hebert.
Hebert's message is something many in Mealey's neighborhood say they wish they would have gotten just a little sooner.
"People are coming together now and they're being more watchful. And they may step out and help someone in that situation." Says Nathan B.