Charenton shooting raises questions about mental illness
BATON ROUGE- Serious questions are being raised about mental health in the state following the shooting of three law enforcement officers and another man in Charenton, Louisiana over the weekend.
Two of the victims died, one of them a police officer.
"I can't believe the system failed that boy," Gladys Charles LeFleur, a lifelong friend of the suspected shooter said.
Authorities arrested Wilbert Thibodeaux after the shooting. People who knew him say they tried to get him help for years.
"I called someone, I called the jail," LaFleur said.
Others also said they reached out for help.
"Girl that stays down the street from me, she say she been calling two weeks, two whole weeks for them to come pick him up," LeFleur said. "They refuse to come pick him up, say it had to be a family member. Wasn't a family member he hurt... But if they would have picked him up and keep him there and sent him to Patterson, Morgan City or Houma to get treatment, this tragedy wouldn't have happened."
People familiar with the mental health system say there are options for people trying to get their loved ones help.
"We're required by law to send them to a treatment facility for next step of evaluation which is typically an emergency department and then they will be seen by emergency room doctors, social workers and nurses," East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Beau Clark said.
If someone is a danger to themselves, other or gravely disabled, Clark said anyone can come in a fill out a sworn affidavit to try and get that person help.
Even though there has been a decline in recent years to funding for mental health statewide and nationally, Clark said there are still options for people to get help. Call 911 if you are in doubt and believe the person is suffering a severe case. Operators can point you in the right direction.