Suspect's Mental Illness Doesn't Negate The Threat They Pose

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I’m sympathetic toward those who suffer from mental illness. It’s a horrible thing to endure, to be sure, and I’ve seen far too many people suffer from it.

Some have gotten help in various ways so that their suffering is manageable. Others haven’t, and their lives become hell; often until they opt to end it themselves.

There are no words for that, really.

So I do have sympathy for those who suffer. However, there comes a time when their suffering cannot be used as an excuse. One community saw a prime example of that recently.

A man firing two guns was shot and killed by Buffalo Grove police early Thursday, in what is the first officer-involved shooting in the village’s history, authorities said.

Police said the man, identified later Thursday as Brian Christopher Howard, 25, of Elgin, may have called 911 to bring the police response that led to his death. Although he had an Elgin address, Howard recently had been living with family in Buffalo Grove, police said.

His mother, Kristine Howard, told the Daily Herald Thursday night that he had struggled with anxiety and depression since his teenage years but was taking steps to get better and about to start a new job Monday.

“Brian has just been struggling for a while with mental health issues and stuff. He’s been working with a psychiatrist and counselor and trying to be his best, but he was on some meds that I think was just messing with his head,” Kristine Howard said.

“The main things I want people to understand is he was just a sweet, sweet person. He would’ve done anything for anybody, and he wouldn’t have hurt anybody. He was hurting and he needed help.”

He might have, but he also had two firearms in his hands and was threatening police.

See, for some, this is evidence that social workers should be involved, that some kind of mental health professional should have been dispatched and then all would be well.

Or you might have a dead social worker as well as a dead suspect. Could go either way.

What we have here sure looks to me like suicide-by-cop. He provided no option to police. They ordered him to drop the weapons, which he didn’t do, so they did what they had to. After all, he was shooting at them already. Had they not fired, they may well have ended up dead themselves.

Sorry, but his suffering from mental illness doesn’t excuse it.

Then again, maybe I’m reading the mom wrong. Maybe she’s just trying to tell people that her son was sick, but she doesn’t think he wanted anyone else to get hurt. If so, he had a strange way of showing it.

While I sympathize with mental illness, I believe the moment you endanger someone else, all bets should be off. We can’t function as a society in any other way, and that’s what happened here.

If you have a loved one suffering, try and get them help. Mental illness takes many forms, but pretty much all of them are treatable. Get them the help so this doesn’t happen to them.