ONTD Political

Parents of man accused of planning shooting call for changes in mental health system

10:09 pm - 12/25/2012
Parents of man accused of planning shooting call for changes in mental health system

Bill and Tricia Lammers sat in the lobby of Citizens Memorial Hospital on Friday, a week after 20 children and six adults were killed at a Connecticut elementary school. Outside, the flag flew at half staff.

The couple has been here before. They have waited for hours as hospital staffers called institutions around the state, trying to find one that had an open bed for their mentally ill son, Blaec, 20. They have waited time and again, five times here and twice in other hospitals, long before November when their son was arrested.

The arrest came after Tricia Lammers told authorities Blaec bought an AR-15 and another semi-automatic from the Bolivar Walmart, the same store where he was found three years ago carrying a butcher knife and a Halloween mask with plans to kill a clerk.

His plans this time, authorities say, were to shoot up a movie theater showing the latest “Twilight” movie. Blaec Lammers is facing felony charges of first-degree assault, making a terrorist threat and armed criminal action. Since then, Tricia Lammers has received phone calls from people who say she’s heroic.

“I’m not a hero,” Tricia Lammers said. “With the events that happened last Friday my heart tells me I did the right thing.

“Our city could be in the news.”

Bill and Tricia Lammers miss their son. He has been at the Polk County Jail for more a month now. They can only see him on Sundays. For 30 minutes. They can’t touch him. He is behind shatterproof glass, and they can only talk to him on the phone in the visiting room. They mourn him as if — in a way — he is dead to them.

“I’m a mom,” Tricia Lammers said. “It’s the holidays. I don’t have my child.”

The couple moved to Bolivar with their two children in 2009. He was the radiology director at Citizens Memorial before becoming a consultant. She is a patient liaison at the hospital. They love the city of 10,300 and hope to retire here. They sat in the hospital lobby Friday to talk with a reporter in hopes that people will better understand the challenges of mental illness.

The couple say their son has always been different. He was diagnosed with dyslexia soon after first grade. He was quiet and shy. Other children picked on him. He lettered in academics his freshman year of high school in Omaha. Two years later, he was expelled after saying he wanted to harm a teacher. He has homemade tattoos on his arms, belly and legs.

The couple has tried repeatedly to get help for their son. Over the years, he has received different diagnoses including Asperger’s and anti-social personality disorder. They’ve spent perhaps as much as $30,000 on repeated hospitalizations and medications. There is still a balance of about $9,300 from their son’s last stay at Lakeland Behavioral Health System, a psychiatric hospital for children in Springfield. They say the mental health system has failed them and their son.

“The system is broken,” Bill Lammers said. “The mental health system. There’s no place to turn to. You take them to a hospital, and 96 hours later they’re home. Maybe on Prozac, but they’re not fixed.”

They don’t believe in more restrictions on guns.

“I have guns, but they’re locked in a safe,” Bill Lammers said
. “There’s no way I would leave anything out.”

The couple say it’s too easy to get released from hospitals and other places for the mentally ill.

“In a perfect world, mental institutions would open back up,” Tricia Lammers said. “You could take an individual there and train them to take care of themselves.”

The couple has not put up a Christmas tree this year. One of their family traditions is the Christmas pickle. Each year, they would hang an ornament shaped like a pickle on the Christmas tree. The child who found it received a prize. This year, there is no one to search for the Christmas pickle.

But Bill and Tricia Lammers don’t think their son should be released. They hope he is sent to a mental institution that is able to help him.

“I think they should keep him until he is fit to be a part of society, and that may be a long, long time,” Bill Lammers said.

Bill Lammers learned about the shooting in Connecticut in a call from his wife. He turned on the TV.

“You think, thank God it’s not Blaec,” Bill Lammers said. “I thank God we got lucky.”

“Everybody in our community got lucky because he wasn’t able to do anything.”

maenads_dance 26th-Dec-2012 09:12 am (UTC)
Without going before a judge? I was under the impression that the 72 hour hold was the maximum that a doctor could sign off on without a hearing.
encircleme 26th-Dec-2012 09:13 am (UTC)
When I was on my 5150, the people on a 5250 had not seen a judge, but I don't know if their cases had been brought before a judge without them in attendance.

(my 5150 was some shit though, i was put on one despite entering myself into the hospital voluntarily)

Edited at 2012-12-26 09:14 am (UTC)
maenads_dance 26th-Dec-2012 09:36 am (UTC)
That's been my experience too - you sign yourself in of your own volition, but once they lock the doors behind you, you're there till the psychiatrist says you're free to go. It's completely idiosyncratic to the institution how long you're held, too.
encircleme 26th-Dec-2012 09:37 am (UTC)
Plus, once your 72 hours are up-well, about 12 hours before that they spring it on you they want to keep you a few days longer, if you disagree its 5250 time, if you agree they let you go at 84-96 hours. Fucking ridiculous.
maenads_dance 26th-Dec-2012 09:49 am (UTC)
Back during my more... rebellious days prior to receiving an appropriate diagnosis, I remember having a long argument with the psychiatric resident I'd been assigned to about whether she was in a position of institutional power over me. I was a total ass, but also completely unwilling to work with someone so in denial that she wouldn't even admit that it made a difference that she could walk out the door any time, whereas I'd be tackled by psychiatric aides if I tried to do the same thing.

encircleme 26th-Dec-2012 09:52 am (UTC)
You're my hero.

My story is much less interesting, bad break up + miscarriage hormone wackiness = 140k in medical bills thank fuck I had insurance then.
redstar826 26th-Dec-2012 02:34 pm (UTC)
I was pretty much told by a social worker to sign myself in, and they would let me go after a few days, but if a judge decided, it would likely be for at least 14 days. So, I signed myself in, and was let out pretty quickly (I went in on a Friday evening and was released sometime Sunday morning). But it was totally at the discretion of the psychiatrist. I told them what I knew they wanted to hear so they would let me out ASAP.
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