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Wed Aug 1, 2012, 08:18 PM

Psychiatrist Called Threat Team About Aurora Shooting Suspect James Holmes

Source: ABC News

Aurora, Colo., shooting suspect James Holmes came to the attention of the threat assessment committee at the University of Colorado but no further action was taken because he left the school more than a month before the attack that killed 12 and injured 58, sources told ABC News.

ABC News has learned that Dr. Lynne Fenton, the psychiatrist who was treating Holmes, 24, at the school, was also a key member of the university's threat assessment team. The group of experts were responsible for protecting the school from potentially violent students.

KMGH-TV, ABC News' affiliate in Denver, reported exclusively that, according to sources, by early June, Fenton had informed other members of the team about her concerns regarding Holmes.

But on June 10 -- three days after Holmes bought an assault weapon and added it to his already growing arsenal -- he suddenly told the university that he was dropping out of the neurosciences doctoral program with no explanation.

Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/US/james-holmes-psychiatrist-schools-threat-assessment-team/story?id=16908862

24 replies, 4658 views

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Arrow 24 replies Author Time Post
Reply Psychiatrist Called Threat Team About Aurora Shooting Suspect James Holmes (Original post)
MindMover Aug 2012 OP
hlthe2b Aug 2012 #1
MindMover Aug 2012 #3
Missycim Aug 2012 #9
MindMover Aug 2012 #16
HereSince1628 Aug 2012 #2
Ilsa Aug 2012 #4
nolabear Aug 2012 #5
davsand Aug 2012 #7
MicaelS Aug 2012 #10
DallasNE Aug 2012 #6
Duer 157099 Aug 2012 #8
cstanleytech Aug 2012 #18
Ash_F Aug 2012 #11
sarisataka Aug 2012 #12
Ash_F Aug 2012 #14
slackmaster Aug 2012 #15
sarisataka Aug 2012 #17
Ash_F Aug 2012 #21
sarisataka Aug 2012 #13
cstanleytech Aug 2012 #20
DearHeart Aug 2012 #22
cstanleytech Aug 2012 #23
DearHeart Aug 2012 #24
Enrique Aug 2012 #19

Response to MindMover (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 08:30 PM

1. Well, the University--already struggling from cuts in state funding--will be facing lawsuits

I think that's a guarantee... Whew... So many missed opportunities. So very sad.

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Response to hlthe2b (Reply #1)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 08:32 PM

3. Another mental health expert with tooo much on her plate ...

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Response to MindMover (Reply #3)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 01:29 PM

9. Well from the OP

 

I dont see where she was overworked, she dropped the case cause he left school. Its her fault for not following up on it

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Response to Missycim (Reply #9)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 02:35 PM

16. Looking at who Dr. Fenton is ....

Fenton is the director of student mental health services at the University of Colorado's Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, and an assistant professor, according to a resume posted on the school's website.

As director, a position she's held since 2009, Fenton sees between 15 and 20 graduate students per week for medication and psychotherapy, coordinates a team of four mental health clinicians, supervises some residents who treat students, and lectures. She also serves as a psychiatrist for between five and 10 patients, the resume states.

http://articles.cnn.com/2012-07-27/us/us_colorado-theater-shooting-psychiatrist_1_fenton-psychiatric-patient-colorado-s-anschutz-medical-campus


That is more than a plateful to me ...

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Response to MindMover (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 08:32 PM

2. My experience is that institutions turn their backs once a person drops out.

This is certainly a response that would be expected for many problems--we wouldn't really expect clinics to chase down most dropouts of their programs.

While a person who is seriously considered to represent a threat to others certainly isn't an average dropout, we can only guess that Fenton's evaluations didn't produce strong enough indications to warrant detention for evaluation of involuntary commitment.




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Response to MindMover (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 08:36 PM

4. I don't find it unreasonable that the university

Threat team members thought that they would be his primary target, and he was no longer interested in them. Yeah, very shortsighted.

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Response to MindMover (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 10:51 PM

5. This sounds like a problem that we might think we could solve, but it's not that easy.

Dr. Fenton was alarmed and it sounds as if she did what she could under the circumstances. If he didn't tell her he had means and intent her obligation is still to be somewhat confidential while consulting with the threat assessment team. Had she said anything to police he could have sued her for malpractice, for violating confidentiality. I don't know if he'd win but he could. Had he stayed in school the assessment team might have required that he be seen, but once he's out they have no power over him. I hate to say this but he might have just slipped through, and I'd bet money neither that psychiatrist nor any member of that team is sleeping nights, not because they did anything wrong, but because they didn't do something wrong, or at least riskily aggressive. It's the awful price of the system that also can't just grab and lock up whomever they like. It's really, really hard. And sometimes the results are horrific.

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Response to nolabear (Reply #5)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 01:21 PM

7. I agree.

As much as any of us would want to have headed off those killings, I honestly don't know what more the Dr or the assessment team could have done. There really is no provision in our laws to lock somebody down just because they MIGHT do something. There are provisions to protect patient privacy, however, and as his doc I'd be willing to bet there'd have been a lawsuit filed against her (and maybe loss of her medical license) had she taken anything outside their sessions. Short of him telling her directly what he had planned, she was bound by patient confidentiality laws NOT to reveal anything.

Plus, if I'm being dead honest about it all, I really don't think I'd want to live anyplace where you could be locked down based completely on one person's say-so.


Laura

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Response to davsand (Reply #7)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 01:31 PM

10. Something needs to change....

When some person goes on a rampage, we always have plenty of people coming along afterwards and saying:

"I KNEW something was wrong, but we couldn't get him help." or

"He refused to get help." or

"The courts wouldn't do anything."

And no it shouldn't be on ONE person's says-so. But three independent doctors? You bet I'd locked someone down over that.

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Response to MindMover (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 01:45 AM

6. Penn State Redo By University Administration

Obviously the circumstances were vastly different but in both cases somebody called attention to a grave problem and the reaction by school administrators was to do nothing that might call attention to the University so they did nothing. Doing nothing doesn't take them off the hook, it sets the hook. It is time for more heads to roll.

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Response to MindMover (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 01:28 PM

8. I wonder if he knew that dropping out would cause them to drop the issue?

What if that is the reason that he dropped out?

How could he have known they would do that? Google?

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Response to Duer 157099 (Reply #8)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 03:25 PM

18. Or if he knew it would force them to drop the case since once he longer is attending the university

they have zero ability to force him into getting treatment.

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Response to MindMover (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 01:38 PM

11. If a background check had been required for his weapons....

This would have come up and those people might have been saved.

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Response to Ash_F (Reply #11)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 01:50 PM

12. How so?

It was never reported outside the university

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Response to sarisataka (Reply #12)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 02:13 PM

14. I don't know the details of how FBI background checks are conducted but I am told it is "rigorous"

According to some posters here, so "rigorous" that it takes "6 months" and therefore should not be expanded to all firearms purchases because of the incredible burden it would place on people attempting to buy a gun. It seems your are implying that such a background check is superficial and therefore should also not be implemented.

So which is it, "rigorous" or superficial?

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Response to Ash_F (Reply #14)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 02:25 PM

15. The system was created under the permanent provisions of the Brady Act

 

http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/nics

The database used in background checks for firearm purchases is simply a list of people who are known to be prohibited from acquiring a firearm, due to a criminal background, a mental incompetence adjudication, a dishonorable discharge from the military, etc. The result of a check is go, no-go, or uncertain. If it comes back as uncertain, the FBI has three days to research and return a go or no-go.

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Response to Ash_F (Reply #14)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 03:09 PM

17. The check you are referring to

Is for Class 3, fully automatic weapons. As his was not FA,, that would not have applied.
As posted, the store would have done a "Brady Check", but since he was not reported as a danger to himself or others, the check would come back clean.

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Response to sarisataka (Reply #17)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 05:04 PM

21. Somewhat incorrect. He wouldn't really need a class 3 license for machine guns either.

I was already well aware of everything you and the previous poster wrote. But neither post was relevant to my point.

"It is a common misconception that an individual must have a "Class 3 License" in order to own NFA firearms. An FFL is required as a prerequisite to become a Special Occupation Taxpayer (SOT): Class 1 importer, Class 2 manufacturer-dealer or Class 3 dealer in NFA firearms, not an individual owner. Legal possession of an NFA firearm by an individual requires transfer of registration within the NFA registry. An individual owner does not need to be an NFA dealer to buy Title II firearms. The sale and purchase of NFA firearms is, however, taxed and regulated, as follows:
All NFA items must be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Private owners wishing to purchase an NFA item must obtain approval from the ATF, obtain a signature from the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) who is the county sheriff or city or town chief of police (not necessarily permission), pass an extensive background check to include submitting a photograph and fingerprints, fully register the firearm, receive ATF written permission before moving the firearm across state lines, and pay a tax"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Firearms_Act

I would like to see a system that utilizes not only what is in place for title II weapons. But also one where psychiatric officials would communicate concerns with local law enforcement, such that when a mentally ill individual goes to them for the signature, they would be rebuffed. And that this would apply to all firearms. Sorry if my first post did not fully encapsulate this.

But I see in some posters a fatalistic attitude toward finding a better way to handle these crimes. So much so that it stifles any conversation. That is not only nonconstructive, but immature reasoning.

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Response to MindMover (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 02:00 PM

13. here is why I place partial blame on the university and staff

Dr. Lynne Fenton, the psychiatrist who was treating Holmes, 24, at the school, was also a key member of the university's threat assessment team


His psychiatrist was a key member of the team, not just someone who sent a memo off to the team.

Look at the timeline according to the reporting:
-He was seeing Dr. Fenton for psychiatric counseling
-She was concerned enough to inform other members of the team about him
-He fails an oral exam
-He purchases a weapon; NBC reported that he told the Dr. this as well
-He drops out

A serious career setback, followed by purchasing a weapon, then dropping out of school. You do not need to be a psychiatrist to know that is a major red flag.

The excuse they had no authority over him is a cop out. At that point they should have given all of the information to local and state authorities. They saw he was no threat to them and I believe it will come out to be similar to Penn St. They did not want CU to look bad.

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Response to sarisataka (Reply #13)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 04:21 PM

20. I know you believe it was a cop out but whats the law itself say?

Did the university have a way to hold him and force him into treatment and or to violate patient confidentiality and report him to the police as a risk?
If the answer is "no" to both then what exactly do you expect them to do?

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Response to cstanleytech (Reply #20)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 05:47 PM

22. It's called a "Duty to Protect"

I'm not a lawyer or psychiatrist, etc., but am studying Health Information and have had lectures by licensed psychicatrists and psychologists in my classes. They stated in these lectures that if the psychiatrist believes that their patient might cause harm to others, that psychiatrist has a duty to warn (or Duty to Protect) the local authorities and/or the potential victim-not just the university. From what I understand, it varies in some states and these states only apply the duty to protect to "known" or "identifiable" victims. If the psychiatrist in these states does not know who the potential victim is, they have no "Duty to Protect".


Most of the states follow the Tarasoff ruling in Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California (1976)



I not sure if Colorado follows the guidelines that would include any unknown vicitms that the patient might harm. The University would have no way of detaining him, that I know of, but if Colorado does follow these guidelines, and his psychiatrist felt that he was a danger, and notified the local authorities, they could detain him or the psychiatrist could move to have the patient involuntarily committed.

[link:http://www.stanford.edu/group/psylawseminar/Tarasoff.Greene.htm|

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Response to DearHeart (Reply #22)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 08:01 PM

23. My question was about the law in this case yet you say yourself that you dont know the law

yet then you go on about "Duty to protect"?

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Response to cstanleytech (Reply #23)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 07:04 PM

24. If you looked at any of the links that I provided

you would see that this is the law in most states. I particularly posted all the links so someone like yourself would see the rules that the psychiatrists use, because you would want definitive laws and guidelines and what case these laws and guidlines were based upon. Just because I'm not a lawyer does not mean that I've not been schooled about HIPAA. Health Information training is extremely extensive, and very detailed, in particular, HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996)

Sorry I'm not a freakin lawyer! Do read about it for yourself!
http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/index.html

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Response to MindMover (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 03:37 PM

19. it's a very sensitive balance

suppose we hold this doctor accountable for this, and then doctors everywhere start calling the cops on their patients just to protect themselves. Then people stop going to doctors.

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