Mental Health Expert Says Schizophrenics and Guns Okay

The sister of the armed man involved in a Childress police shooting says she knows where her brother got the gun.

Donna Fanning says Jeff Whitten suffers from schizophrenia and broke into a family gun cabinet to get the shotgun he took to the police department. NewsChannel 10 asked health experts whether it's too risky for mental illness patients to live with firearms. A local mental health director says it's generally okay for schizophrenics to be around guns.

But there are important exceptions. "If somebody does have somebody in their home that they might think is dangerous or has a tendency toward violence, I would think you would either remove any type of firearms in the home or keep them locked up," says Jim Womack, a spokesman with Texas Panhandle Mental Health and Mental Retardation.

Womack notes schizophrenics are more likely to be victims of violent crime than to cause it. He says going off medication like the Childress gunman reportedly did can lead to a dangerous breakdown for a schizophrenic.

Texas Panhandle Mental Health and Mental Retardation is launching a new partnership to keep mental illness patients from ending up in situations like the Childress police shooting.