OKC Crisis Center Addresses Mental Issues Following MWC Shooting

Tuesday, June 18th 2013, 7:40 pm
By: News 9

We did some digging and discovered the man who was killed by Midwest City police as he threatened the life of a toddler, has no criminal history here in Oklahoma. But he is a wanted felon out of Dallas, Texas.

6/18/2013 Related Story: MWC Police Begin Internal Investigation Into Officer Involved Shooting

Midwest City police say 37-year-old Sammie Lamont Wallace is the man who held a 2-year-old girl hostage at knife point in the Walmart Neighborhood Market near Reno Avenue and Midwest Boulevard. The man they say they were forced to shoot and kill when he started a countdown on the little girl's life.

6/18/2013 Related Story: Police Identify Suspect Shot, Killed At MWC Walmart

We checked and his criminal background shows he has been arrested for a string of felonies including aggravated assault, robbery with a deadly weapon, and criminal trespass. He has also served time in a Texas Prison.

But we still don't know what brought Wallace here to Midwest City, or why he targeted that 2-year-old girl and her mother at this Walmart Neighborhood Market on Monday.

We also don't know if he was suffering some sort of psychotic break.

"He was saying things like he has nothing to live for, nothing to lose," said Donita Owens, who witnessed the standoff.

"He basically was saying things like he wants to see his kids, he wants his kids too he wants to go and see his family."

We talked with Jeff Dismukes with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. He says mental illness is a significant public health concern in the state of Oklahoma that is often swept under the rug.

"We've been working for years trying to reduce the stigma that's around this," said Dismukes. "But often people don't know where to turn."

But Jeff says there are several places you can go to for help. The Crisis Center at N.E. 13th and Lottie has 32 beds available for inpatient care. He also says people can go to any local hospital or emergency room or doctor or clergy member to be referred for help as well.

"We can prevent these things from happening," asserted Dismukes. "We have the ability to recognize these illnesses, to treat these illnesses, and for people to recover from the illnesses. And that's more effective the earlier we intervene."

Dismukes says families have to talk about what's bothering their loved ones, and address the mental health issues early, before they get to a crisis level.