ST. LOUS COUNTY, Mo. – North county residents say their neighbor is setting fires and shooting out windows. Yet, some say they don’t want him in jail as much as they want to get him help.
It’s happening in Vinita Park where residents have video proof of frightening behavior.
Video captures the man setting a small fire near a basement window and painting over a surveillance camera.
That’s just the beginning, according to one woman who has tried to get the man help.
“All of my basement windows were shot out – looks like with birdshot,” she said.
She asked that we don’t use her name.
“He’s put a water hose up to the basement trying to flood it – twice. He knocks on the basement window. He bangs on it. He just has a big infatuation with the basement,” she said.
She showed Fox 2’s Chris Hayes a video clip where she asks the man, “Are you ok?” In the clip, you can hear him say he’s hearing voices.
“I can hear the people talking (in the basement) you can hear him say as he continues, “I’m not crazy though, I’m just letting you know.”
The woman’s father is Bishop Elmer Rice who said he hopes the man can get help, “before anyone gets really hurt. I keep thinking it’s like a movie,” he said as he thought about possible frightening outcomes. He wonders why the man can’t get help, “Some kind of institution, some professional help,” Rice said.
North County Police Cooperative Maj. Ron Martin says police have been trying.
“In some cases, we have affected an arrest and in other cases, we’ve sought out other options,” he said.
He described involving health professionals who said they could not take a mental health evaluation.
“I think eventually we will handle the problem. She’s not the only one having a problem. We – our City of Vinita Park was actually a victim of some property damage crimes that we believe this particular person was involved in,” Martin said.
“She’s not in the boat alone. We’re along for the ride and we’re doing everything we possibly can to come up with the right solution.”
Ellisville Police Chief Steve Lewis said it’s a regional challenge.
“It’s difficult to find beds for someone who needs mental health counseling, especially intensive mental health counseling,” he said.
Lewis continued, “There needs to be a focus on mental health support – and that’s funding – and it flies in the face of the defunding the police movement. I don’t believe in the defunding of police. I think that’s a very misinterpreted, misinformed idea. I think, though, finding funding to support mental health services for those people who need the assistance (is important).”
Rice said he originally told his daughter she should move, but that she convinced him – she needs to stay and make a difference.
“We don’t want to keep putting band-aids on the situation. We want to help somebody get healed,” Rice said.