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Deadly mass shooting, house fire on Tucson’s south side puts spotlight on mental health and crime

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 6:01 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A mass shooting and house fire on Tucson’s south side that has left at least two people dead and several others injured is bringing attention to mental health and crime.

The suspect Leslie Scarlett spent six years in prison for armed robbery and was released in 2013, according to the Tucson Police Department. Police say along with his criminal history, Scarlett has a history of mental health issues.

“If this incident isn’t a call to action, I’m really not sure what is,” said Chief Chris Magnus, of the Tucson Police Department.

Chief Magnus, reacting to Sunday’s tragic series of events that ended with two people dead, and an ambulance crew and firefighter wounded by gunfire on Tucson’s south side. The shooting spree ending with the suspect shot by police.

“The real question we should be asking is how can we coordinate the work of our criminal justice and mental health systems to prevent these horrific attacks,” he said, “Who are these ticking time bombs and is there anything we can do working together instead of in silos to predict their level of risk?”

Mental health experts agree.

“What can the city, what can the county do to better coordinate with law enforcement to make sure situations like this have that whole umbrella of response,” said Dr. Rahul Sivaprasad, a mental health expert at Tucson Counseling.

The answer, Sivaprasad said, is for those who need mental health treatment receive it. If needed, he said, those who are incarcerated should continue seeking mental health services after they are released.

“To help make sure these people get the help they need before they are released,” he said.

CODAC and NAMI offer free crisis hotlines you or someone you know can call to be connected with mental health services. CODAC’s hotline can be called at 520-202-1870 and call NAMI at 1-520-622-600.

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