By Amos King
When shots rang out in the small South Metro-Atlanta town, Hampton, Georgia, the quiet neighborhood was devastated. Four of its residents were gunned down and unfortunately killed by their neighbor, Andre Longmore. Mr. Longmore was living with his mother, Lorna Dennis, who apologized for her son’s actions, explaining that he was a United States Army veteran who had mental illness. Ms. Dennis stated that she tried to get help for her son, but she was told that nothing could be done unless he tried to hurt himself or others.
The lack of good mental health services and medicine for those with mental health conditions creates an unsafe environment for others.
Justice 4 Veterans is a non-profit organization. It is a resource center for veterans in DeKalb County.
Mental illness is the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about or deal with. Veterans with mental illness need the medication and services to help them manage their lives and maintain self-control.
After the four innocent victims were killed, Mr. Longmore was on the run. He was involved in a shootout with police officers, wounding two of them. The officers returned fire killing Mr. Longmore.
While at a news conference with other elected officials, Henry County Sheriff Reginald Scandrett started his remarks about Mr. Longmore with the statement: “The monster is dead!”
As a veteran, I was offended by Sheriff Scandrett’s statement calling Mr. Longmore “a monster” because it was disrespectful to veterans.
It was wrong for Mr. Longmore to kill those people, but he had documented mental illness. He should not be referred to as a monster. I believe elected officials have a responsibility to give the facts of a case without calling a perpetrator defamatory names. Crimes are going to continue to happen if the government and society don’t deal with the mental illness crisis. It is going to keep happening if these veterans with mental illness don’t get the help that they need.
I have heard from other veterans who were also offended by the statement calling Mr. Longmore a monster. We are asking Sheriff Reginald Scandrett to publicly apologize for the derogatory statement.