Veteran Alton Missouri Police Officer Disarmed By Petite Mentally Ill Woman – Who Then Used Officer’s Gun To Commit Suicide In His Patrol Car

July 6, 2012

ALTON, MISSOURI – A mentally ill Missouri woman committed suicide by shooting herself in the head with a police officer’s gun while getting a ride to a local hospital in a squad car on Wednesday.

The St. Louis County Police Department said Stephanie Hicks, 20, got into a struggle with an Alton police officer over his weapon.

Hicks’ former boyfriend Eric Perry said she had been dealing with a bi-polar disorder and decided to seek professional help, according to the TV station KSDK.

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Stephanie Hicks, 20, fatally shot herself in the head on Wednesday after wrestling a gun away from a police officer

Untimely death: Stephanie Hicks, 20, fatally shot herself in the head on Wednesday after wrestling a gun away from a police officer

Loved ones said Hicks had been struggling with a bi-polar disorder and other mental issues

Troubled: Loved ones said Hicks had been struggling with a bi-polar disorder and other mental issues

On Wednesday morning, she set out on foot in the sweltering heat from her home in Alton toward Christian Northeast Hospital about nine-and-a-half miles away.

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An officer found Hicks walking across the Clark Bridge, which crosses the Mississippi River at Alton, and called for an EMS crew to examine her, St. Louis Today reported.

Alton Police Chief David Hayes said on Thursday that Hicks was not suicidal on the bridge, but simply trying to reach the hospital. She was medically cleared by the paramedics.
An officer found Hicks walking across the Clark Bridge, which crosses the Mississippi River at Alton

Chance encounter: An officer found Hicks walking across the Clark Bridge, which crosses the Mississippi River at Alton

Hicks was walking in the heat to Christian Northeast Hospital located more than nine miles from her home

Seeking help: Hicks was walking in the heat to Christian Northeast Hospital located more than nine miles from her home

Hicks got into the passenger seat of the patrol car because police said she was not in custody, and it was too hot in the back

Courtesy ride: Hicks got into the passenger seat of the patrol car because police said she was not in custody, and it was too hot in the back

At around 9am, the officer pulled over and asked Hicks if she needed a ride. The 20-year-old got into the front seat because the back of the car is for prisoners, and Hicks was not in custody.

‘In the back seat of those police cars, whatever the temperature is outside it’s usually 15 to 20 degrees hotter inside,’ Hayes said.

While it is not customary for Alton police officers to offer citizens courtesy rides, the officer called his commanding officer and received permission to drive Hicks, who was apparently known to the department.

When the vehicle reached Dunn Road and Highway 367, officials said the woman unexpectedly grabbed the pistol carried in a holster on the policeman’s right hip.
Officials said the woman did not say a word in the moments before she grabbed the officer’s gun at Dunn Road and Highway 367

Chaotic scene: Officials said the woman did not say a word in the moments before she grabbed the officer’s gun at Dunn Road and Highway 367

Police said the officer told them Hicks didn’t say anything in the car before unsnapping his holster and shooting herself.

She was taken to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, where she died from her injury.

The patrol car was equipped with a video camera, Hayes said, but it is wired to the emergency lights and was not running. The officer turned on the lights after the shooting, and the camera captured the tragic aftermath.

The officer driving Hicks is a 13-year veteran on the Alton police force. He’s been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.
Hicks’ mother, Robin, said her daughter should have never been allowed to be in a position to take the pistol

Devastated: Hicks’ mother, Robin, said her daughter should have never been allowed to be in a position to take the pistol

Hayes emphasized that the unnamed officer did not violate department procedures.

However, the victim’s relatives have expressed anger at the police, questioning how a 5-foot-1-inch woman who weighed only about 80 pounds managed to wrestle a gun away from the officer.

‘She got that gun and there’s no way she should have got that gun,’ the victim’s mother, Robin Hicks, told Fox 2 Now. ‘And I’m angry, and I’m pissed, and this is not right!’

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US Troops Are Killing Themselves Twice As Fast As The Enemy Can

June 8, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Suicides are surging among America’s troops, averaging nearly one a day this year – the fastest pace in the nation’s decade of war.

The 154 suicides for active-duty troops in the first 155 days of the year far outdistance the U.S. forces killed in action in Afghanistan – about 50 per cent more – according to Pentagon statistics obtained by The Associated Press.

The numbers reflect a military burdened with wartime demands from Iraq and Afghanistan that have taken a greater toll than foreseen a decade ago. The military also is struggling with increased sexual assaults, alcohol abuse, domestic violence and other misbehavior.

Because suicides had leveled off in 2010 and 2011, this year’s upswing has caught some officials by surprise.

The reasons for the increase are not fully understood. Among explanations, studies have pointed to combat exposure, post-traumatic stress, misuse of prescription medications and personal financial problems.

Army data suggest soldiers with multiple combat tours are at greater risk of committing suicide, although a substantial proportion of Army suicides are committed by soldiers who never deployed.

The unpopular war in Afghanistan is winding down with the last combat troops scheduled to leave at the end of 2014. But this year has seen record numbers of soldiers being killed by Afghan troops, and there also have been several scandals involving U.S. troop misconduct.

The 2012 active-duty suicide total of 154 through June 3 compares to 130 in the same period last year, an 18 per cent increase. And it’s more than the 136.2 suicides that the Pentagon had projected for this period based on the trend from 2001-2011.

This year’s January-May total is up 25 percent from two years ago, and it is 16 per cent ahead of the pace for 2009, which ended with the highest yearly total thus far.

Suicide totals have exceeded U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan in earlier periods, including for the full years 2008 and 2009.

The suicide pattern varies over the course of a year, but in each of the past five years the trend through May was a reliable predictor for the full year, according to a chart based on figures provided by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner.

The numbers are rising among the 1.4 million active-duty military personnel despite years of effort to encourage troops to seek help with mental health problems. Many in the military believe that going for help is seen as a sign of weakness and thus a potential threat to advancement.

Kim Ruocco, widow of Marine Major John Ruocco, a helicopter pilot who hanged himself in 2005 between Iraq deployments, said he was unable to bring himself to go for help.

‘He was so afraid of how people would view him once he went for help,’ she said in an interview at her home in suburban Boston. ‘He thought that people would think he was weak, that people would think he was just trying to get out of redeploying or trying to get out of service, or that he just couldn’t hack it – when, in reality, he was sick. He had suffered injury in combat and he had also suffered from depression and let it go untreated for years. And because of that, he’s dead today.’

Ruocco is currently director of suicide prevention programs for the military support organization Tragedy Assistance Programs, or TAPS.

Jackie Garrick, head of a newly established Defense Suicide Prevention Office at the Pentagon, said in an interview Thursday that the suicide numbers this year are troubling.

‘We are very concerned at this point that we are seeing a high number of suicides at a point in time where we were expecting to see a lower number of suicides,’ she said, adding that the weak U.S. economy may be confounding preventive efforts even as the pace of military deployments eases.

Garrick said experts are still struggling to understand suicidal behavior.

‘What makes one person become suicidal and another not is truly an unknown,’ she said.

Dr. Stephen N. Xenakis, a retired Army brigadier general and a practicing psychiatrist, said the suicides reflect the level of tension as the U.S. eases out of Afghanistan though violence continues.

‘It’s a sign in general of the stress the Army has been under over the 10 years of war,’ he said in an interview. ‘We’ve seen before that these signs show up even more dramatically when the fighting seems to go down and the Army is returning to garrison.’

But Xenakis said he worries that many senior military officers do not grasp the nature of the suicide problem.

A glaring example of that became public when a senior Army general recently told soldiers considering suicide to ‘act like an adult.’

Major General Dana Pittard, commander of the 1st Armored Division, last month retracted – but did not apologize for – a statement in his Army blog in January. He had written, ‘I have now come to the conclusion that suicide is an absolutely selfish act.’ He also wrote, ‘I am personally fed up with soldiers who are choosing to take their own lives so that others can clean up their mess. Be an adult, act like an adult, and deal with your real-life problems like the rest of us.’ He did also counsel soldiers to seek help.

His remarks drew a public rebuke from the Army, which has the highest number of suicides and called his assertions ‘clearly wrong.’ Last week the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, said he disagrees with Pittard ‘in the strongest possible terms.’

The military services have set up confidential telephone hotlines, placed more mental health specialists on the battlefield, added training in stress management, invested more in research on mental health risk and taken other measures.

The Marines established a counseling service dubbed ‘DStress line,’ a toll-free number that troubled Marines can call anonymously. They also can use a Marine website to chat online anonymously with a counselor.

The Marines arguably have had the most success recently in lowering their suicide numbers, which are up slightly this year but are roughly in line with levels of the past four years. The Army’s numbers also are up slightly. The Air Force has seen a spike, to 32 through June 3 compared to 23 at the same point last year. The Navy is slightly above its 10-year trend line but down a bit from 2011.

As part of its prevention strategy, the Navy has published a list of ‘truths’ about suicide.

‘Most suicidal people are not psychotic or insane,’ it says. ‘They might be upset, grief-stricken, depressed or despairing.’

In a report published in January the Army said the true impact of its prevention programs is unknown.

‘What is known is that all Army populations … are under increased stress after a decade of war,’ it said, adding that if not for prevention efforts the Army’s suicide totals might have been as much as four times as high.

Marine Sergeant Major Bryan Battaglia, the senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently issued a video message to all military members in which he noted that suicides ‘are sadly on the rise.’

‘From private to general, we shoulder an obligation to look and listen for signs and we stand ready to intervene and assist our follow service member or battle buddy in time of need,’ Battaglia said.

The suicide numbers began surging in 2006. They soared in 2009 and then leveled off before climbing again this year. The statistics include only active-duty troops, not veterans who returned to civilian life after fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. Nor does the Pentagon’s tally include non-mobilized National Guard or Reserve members.

The renewed surge in suicides has caught the attention of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Last month he sent an internal memo to the Pentagon’s top civilian and military leaders in which he called suicide ‘one of the most complex and urgent problems’ facing the Defense Department, according to a copy provided to the AP.

Panetta touched on one of the most sensitive aspects of the problem: the stigma associated seeking help for mental distress. This is particularly acute in the military.

‘We must continue to fight to eliminate the stigma from those with post-traumatic stress and other mental health issues,’ Panetta wrote, adding that commanders ‘cannot tolerate any actions that belittle, haze, humiliate or ostracize any individual, especially those who require or are responsibly seeking professional services.’

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Hutchins Texas Police Officer Sgt. Gregory McKinley Arrested, Suspended, Charged With Assault After Domestic Violence Incident

January 25, 2012

HUTCHINS, TEXAS – A North Texas police officer is on administrative leave following his arrest earlier this week on an assault charge.

Hutchins police Sgt. Gregory McKinley was taken into custody Monday by Wylie police. The charge stems from an incident that happened at his home last week.

The 42-year-old was was booked into the Collin County Jail on a charge of assault causing bodily injury, a third-degree felony.

Hutchins Police Chief Frank McElligott announced that McKinley will remain on administrative leave until an internal affairs investigation is complete.

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Wylie Police have released the name of the person involved in a SWAT incident March 9.

Charles Gregory McKinley, a resident of Wylie and a police officer in Hutchins, is being held at the Collin County Detention Facility on charges of Assault-Family Violence-Impede Breath or Circulation, according to Wylie Det. Venece Perepiczka.

About 10 p.m. March 9, WPD was dispatched to the 2800 block of Sutters Mill Way in reference to a domestic disturbance call. When the officers arrived on the scene, they were told by the person who had made the call that McKinley was a Hutchins officer and that he had made statements indicating he may be suicidal. He had also indicated there were weapons in the house.

Attempts to contact McKinley were unsuccessful and, due to the mention of weapons and suicidal statements, Wylie SWAT and negotiator teams were sent to the residence, Perepiczka said. “Continued attempts to make contact with McKinley were unsuccessful. Officers obtained house keys and went into the residence. McKinley was found unconscious but breathing by the Wylie SWAT team, and he was transported to the hospital by EMS for a possible overdose,” she said.

McKinley was released from the hospital March 14, and he was taken into custody and transported to the Collin County Detention Facility on the familiy violence warrant. The charge is a third degree felony. McKinley’s bond has been set at $200,000.

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On Duty New York City Police Officer Kills Himself While Talking To Girlfriend On Cellphone

January 20, 2012

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – A police officer with the NYPD ended his life with a gun shot to the face late Thursday night, said an NYPD official.

The 28-year-old cop was reportedly on his cell phone with his girlfriend when he turned his gun on himself in Hollis Hills.

He was rushed to Long Island Jewish Hospital where he died at about 11 p.m.

His identity is being withheld pending family notification.

The officer was responding with his partner to a call about several vehicle break-ins when he committed suicide, the NY Daily News reported Friday.

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Groton Connecticut Police Officer Kills Himself In Police Station

June 6, 2011

GROTON, CONNECTICUT – A police officer who was found dead inside the Groton City Police Department Monday morning killed himself, officials said.

The officer, whose name was not released, was found at the department at 295 Meridian St. around 8:30 a.m. by a fellow officer, according to a release from Chief Bruno L. Giulini.

The officer killed himself, said State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance.

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Former Utah State Police Officer Brian Smith Dies After Oxycontin Robbery, Randomly Killing Innocent Dallas Texas Motorists, And Shooting Himself During Standoff With Police

December 25, 2008

DALLAS, TEXAS – A Keller man who is suspected of killing two men during a crime spree Monday has died.

Brian Smith, a former Utah state trooper and the father of five children, died at 6 p.m. at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, a spokesman said.

Smith shot himself early Tuesday after a standoff with police in Garland.

Two days after the bizarre chain of events that led to the fatal shootings in Garland and Dallas, family and friends struggled to understand the actions of Smith.

“When he was here, he was just the best of neighbors. One of the greatest guys I know,” said Cindi Schut, who lived across the street from the Smith family in Herriman, a suburb of Salt Lake City, for three years. “I can’t image him being anything else.”

Two years ago, when Schut’s son, Dallin, was 9, he was assigned to write an essay about a hero. He chose Smith.

Dallin still cherishes the small mahogany box with the governor’s seal that Smith gave him after reading the essay, Schut said. The box was a gift from Gov. Mike Leavitt to Smith, who served as Leavitt’s body guard for several years.

The Smiths have four boys and one girl, Schut said. The oldest is 9, the youngest an infant.

Smith volunteered with Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts in Utah, Schut said. The family was also active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she said.

At some point, Smith hurt his back and couldn’t shovel snow, Schut said, so he borrowed their snow blower “and he loved it so much, he would do everybody else’s, too.”

“I want people to know this is not who he is,” Schut said. “Something has happened to change him because he’s not that kind of a person at all.”

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Smith began abusing alcohol and prescription drugs after an on-duty traffic accident, according to a Utah Police Officer Standards and Training investigation report.

Utah Department of Public Safety officials could not provide details Wednesday about when the accident happened or the severity of Smith’s injuries. But in January, he threatened to kill himself after drinking heavily, according to the report.

The incident prompted an investigation that led to Smith surrendering his law enforcement certification in May.

In late March, Smith and his wife bought a $275,000, 3,200-square-foot home on Branchview Court in Keller, according to public records. Friends and colleagues said Smith was excited about a job opportunity in North Texas, but details were scarce.

The family was well-received in the Highland Creek Estates subdivision. Tracie Gates said her children and Smith’s children played together.

Sometimes they would all go over to sit on the stone lion statues that Gates has on either side of her front walkway. Sometimes they would catch frogs and release them into a nearby pond, she said.

Attempts to contact Smith’s relatives were unsuccessful.

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Earlier this month, Southlake police obtained arrest warrants for Smith accusing him of two crimes, said Sgt. Mike Bedrich, a police spokesman.

The first, an aggravated robbery, occurred Dec. 17 in the 600 block of East Farm Road 1709 — also known as Southlake Boulevard — Bedrich said. About midday, a woman sitting in her car in a strip mall parking lot was approached by a male and sprayed with pepper spray or something similar, Bedrich said Wednesday.

The man then reached over the woman and grabbed her purse. Police later obtained surveillance video of the suspect using the victim’s credit cards.

On Monday, a purse was taken from an unoccupied vehicle in the 1500 block of Farm Road 1709, Bedrich said. He declined to specify what evidence linked the crime to Smith.

The arrest warrants remain unserved, Bedrich said Wednesday.

It was later Monday, at 5:25 p.m., when a man who identified himself as Brian Smith robbed a Kroger pharmacy in Garland, police spokesman Joe Harn said.

The man said he was there to refill a prescription for OxyContin, Harn said. He then produced a handgun, jumped over the counter and grabbed the drug before fleeing.

Minutes later, Jorge Lopez, 20 of Rowlett, was fatally shot at an intersection north of Interstate 635 in Garland. Next, shots were fired at an 18-wheeler on I-635 near Jupiter Road, but the driver was not hit. Minutes later, more shots were fired at another 18-wheeler, and driver, William Scott Miller, 42 of Kentucky was killed. Shots were then fired at a third 18-wheeler and the driver was hit by flying glass.

As Dallas County police searched for the rush-hour gunman Monday, Southlake police relayed information that Smith might be in the area, armed and suicidal, driving his Honda CRV.

It remained unclear Wednesday how Southlake authorities got that information, Bedrich said.

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Until the tip from Southlake police, Dallas County authorities had been working with a witness description indicating that the Garland shooter was driving a tan Ford F150 pickup.

About 9 p.m. Monday, Garland police found Smith in the Honda. He did not respond to officers’ orders, and a SWAT team was called in.

Early Tuesday, he shot himself and was taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, police said.

Police are awaiting ballistics tests to compare the bullets from Smith’s vehicle with the other shootings. Dallas police have said early results indicate Smith was the shooter.

On Wednesday, Harn declined to comment on the tests until they are complete but said the results and further investigation could explain whether two different vehicles were involved.

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Former Utah State Police Officer Brian Smith Dies After Oxycontin Robbery, Randomly Killing Innocent Dallas Texas Motorists, And Shooting Himself During Standoff With Police

December 25, 2008

DALLAS, TEXAS – A Keller man who is suspected of killing two men during a crime spree Monday has died.

Brian Smith, a former Utah state trooper and the father of five children, died at 6 p.m. at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, a spokesman said.

Smith shot himself early Tuesday after a standoff with police in Garland.

Two days after the bizarre chain of events that led to the fatal shootings in Garland and Dallas, family and friends struggled to understand the actions of Smith.

“When he was here, he was just the best of neighbors. One of the greatest guys I know,” said Cindi Schut, who lived across the street from the Smith family in Herriman, a suburb of Salt Lake City, for three years. “I can’t image him being anything else.”

Two years ago, when Schut’s son, Dallin, was 9, he was assigned to write an essay about a hero. He chose Smith.

Dallin still cherishes the small mahogany box with the governor’s seal that Smith gave him after reading the essay, Schut said. The box was a gift from Gov. Mike Leavitt to Smith, who served as Leavitt’s body guard for several years.

The Smiths have four boys and one girl, Schut said. The oldest is 9, the youngest an infant.

Smith volunteered with Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts in Utah, Schut said. The family was also active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she said.

At some point, Smith hurt his back and couldn’t shovel snow, Schut said, so he borrowed their snow blower “and he loved it so much, he would do everybody else’s, too.”

“I want people to know this is not who he is,” Schut said. “Something has happened to change him because he’s not that kind of a person at all.”

subhede

Smith began abusing alcohol and prescription drugs after an on-duty traffic accident, according to a Utah Police Officer Standards and Training investigation report.

Utah Department of Public Safety officials could not provide details Wednesday about when the accident happened or the severity of Smith’s injuries. But in January, he threatened to kill himself after drinking heavily, according to the report.

The incident prompted an investigation that led to Smith surrendering his law enforcement certification in May.

In late March, Smith and his wife bought a $275,000, 3,200-square-foot home on Branchview Court in Keller, according to public records. Friends and colleagues said Smith was excited about a job opportunity in North Texas, but details were scarce.

The family was well-received in the Highland Creek Estates subdivision. Tracie Gates said her children and Smith’s children played together.

Sometimes they would all go over to sit on the stone lion statues that Gates has on either side of her front walkway. Sometimes they would catch frogs and release them into a nearby pond, she said.

Attempts to contact Smith’s relatives were unsuccessful.

subhede

Earlier this month, Southlake police obtained arrest warrants for Smith accusing him of two crimes, said Sgt. Mike Bedrich, a police spokesman.

The first, an aggravated robbery, occurred Dec. 17 in the 600 block of East Farm Road 1709 — also known as Southlake Boulevard — Bedrich said. About midday, a woman sitting in her car in a strip mall parking lot was approached by a male and sprayed with pepper spray or something similar, Bedrich said Wednesday.

The man then reached over the woman and grabbed her purse. Police later obtained surveillance video of the suspect using the victim’s credit cards.

On Monday, a purse was taken from an unoccupied vehicle in the 1500 block of Farm Road 1709, Bedrich said. He declined to specify what evidence linked the crime to Smith.

The arrest warrants remain unserved, Bedrich said Wednesday.

It was later Monday, at 5:25 p.m., when a man who identified himself as Brian Smith robbed a Kroger pharmacy in Garland, police spokesman Joe Harn said.

The man said he was there to refill a prescription for OxyContin, Harn said. He then produced a handgun, jumped over the counter and grabbed the drug before fleeing.

Minutes later, Jorge Lopez, 20 of Rowlett, was fatally shot at an intersection north of Interstate 635 in Garland. Next, shots were fired at an 18-wheeler on I-635 near Jupiter Road, but the driver was not hit. Minutes later, more shots were fired at another 18-wheeler, and driver, William Scott Miller, 42 of Kentucky was killed. Shots were then fired at a third 18-wheeler and the driver was hit by flying glass.

As Dallas County police searched for the rush-hour gunman Monday, Southlake police relayed information that Smith might be in the area, armed and suicidal, driving his Honda CRV.

It remained unclear Wednesday how Southlake authorities got that information, Bedrich said.

subhede

Until the tip from Southlake police, Dallas County authorities had been working with a witness description indicating that the Garland shooter was driving a tan Ford F150 pickup.

About 9 p.m. Monday, Garland police found Smith in the Honda. He did not respond to officers’ orders, and a SWAT team was called in.

Early Tuesday, he shot himself and was taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, police said.

Police are awaiting ballistics tests to compare the bullets from Smith’s vehicle with the other shootings. Dallas police have said early results indicate Smith was the shooter.

On Wednesday, Harn declined to comment on the tests until they are complete but said the results and further investigation could explain whether two different vehicles were involved.

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