15 February 2008

NIU Shooter Off His Meds?

A report on yesterday afternoon's deadly shooting at Northern Illinois University where a lone gunman killed five students, in addition to killing himself, and injured a dozen others (the teacher, a graduate student, was injured but is expected to survive), implies, not surprisingly, that a failure to treat a mental health problem as a culprit.

The man who gunned down five people at Northern Illinois University in a suicidal rampage became erratic after halting his medication and carried a shotgun to campus inside a guitar case . . . The man, 27-year-old former student Stephen Kazmierczak, was also wielding three handguns during Thursday's ambush inside a lecture hall. . . . Kazmierczak . . . was taking some kind of medication . . ."He had stopped taking medication and become somewhat erratic in the last couple of weeks," Grady said, declining to name the drug or provide other details. . . .

The motive of the killer, who graduated from NIU in 2006 but was a student there as recently as last year, was still not known. Grady said Kazmierczak was an "outstanding" student while at NIU and authorities were still trying to determine why he would kill. There was no known suicide note.

"We were dealing with a disturbed individual who intended to do harm on this campus,". . . . The killer had been a graduate student in sociology at Northern Illinois as recently as spring 2007 . . . the suspect had no record of police contact or an arrest record while attending Northern Illinois, a campus with 25,000 students about 65 miles west of Chicago.

The gunman was [currently] a student at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, Chancellor Richard Herman said.


It appears that those who sold him the guns violated no laws:

Two of the weapons - the pump-action Remington shotgun and a Glock 9mm handgun - were purchased legally less than a week ago, on Feb. 9, authorities said. They were purchased in Champaign, where Kazmierczak was enrolled at the University of Illinois.

A spokesman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said the other two guns were also legally purchased and traced to the Champaign gun shop, but the ATF was still determining when Kazmierczak picked them up.

Kazmierczak had a valid Firearm Owner's Identification Card, which is required for all Illinois residents who buy or possess firearms, authorities said.


Mental health screening for gun ownership eligiblity is spotty in any case, and it isn't clear that simply taking psychiatric medications on an outpatient basis would be disqualifying in any case. Of course, the story will likely develop over time.

Some of the most serious mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia, manifest when the person with the disorder is in their 20s, so it wouldn't be surprising if there is no history of inpatient mental health treatment in a case like this one.

1 comment:

Amy said...

Mental Health Screening?

C'mon folks!

There is a psychiatric / pharmaceutical plan to "suicide screen" every
child in the United States before they graduate from high school.
Evidence exists that shows massive pharmaceutical backing that will
result in even more overdrugging of kids with psychiatric drugs .

Can you take a moment to view this very short video? Click here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfU9puZQKBY

And then sign and forward this petition
http://www.petitiononline.com/TScreen/petition.html to your associates
and everyone you know? It already has almost 25,000 signatures.

It's simply a race to inform enough parents so something can be done
about this.