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Richard Lancaster, mentally ill man, turned in by his mom after he assembled an arsenal

richard lancaster.jpg
Pics, video below.
As the Colorado legislature continues to debate gun-control proposals (and Republicans attempt to counter by attacking a Democratic rep for his comments about rape), we're hearing about a mom's decision to turn in Richard Lancaster, her mentally ill son, who allegedly managed to collect an arsenal of weapons online. And while the story is being presented in sensationalized fashion, the questions it raises are key to the ongoing discussion.

The report comes to us from 9News correspondent Jeremy Jojola, who cites a search warrant for the Highlands Ranch home where Lancaster, 26, lives with his mother. The document notes that investigators searching Lancaster's room found "boxes of ammunition, hand guns, sniper suits, gun building parts, tactical clothing, rifles and a 'welded AK-47 long gun.'"

Apparently, most if not all of this material was obtained online despite Lancaster's long history of mental-health challenges, including treatment at the state facility in Pueblo and other hospitals, plus a diagnosis of schizophrenia that has at times led to violence -- a rare occurrence for individuals with his condition, 9News acknowledges.

richard lancaster highlands ranch.jpg
A shot of Highlands Ranch from the 9News report.
Examples: The search warrant says Lancaster pointed a homemade spear at his mom's chest at one point and threatened to "kill people if they tried to take him to the mental hospital again."

Lancaster's mom didn't agree to an interview, so Jojola compensates by chatting with an expert who describes her son as a potential "time bomb" that could have gone off at any time, as well as another mom with a mentally ill son who she says she has had difficulty helping him because he, like Lancaster, is an adult, with the right under Colorado law to refuse treatment.

The 9News piece supplements this information in tabloid-TV fashion. Featured are images of the response to the Aurora theater shooting this past July, in addition to photos of accused killer James Holmes and others associated with mass shootings. Among them: Adam Lanza, responsible for the slayings in Newtown, Connecticut, Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, and Jared Loughner, whose attack at an Arizona grocery store critically wounded Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and killed several others.

And that's not to mention shots of weaponry, including quick cuts of bullet photos accompanied by gunfire.

Grabby stuff, sure. But so explicitly likening Lancaster to Holmes and company suggests that his mother was right to be cautious about cooperating. After all, Lancaster has no felony convictions on his record (that's why he could legally obtain so much firepower) and hasn't been convicted of anything yet (charges against him include menacing and attempting to possess a dangerous weapon).

Granted, authorities are right to take the case seriously -- a point of view exemplified by the $500,000 bond that's kept Lancaster in custody since August. And his story certainly needs to be told. He seems like exactly the kind of a person most people think shouldn't be allowed to possess piles of lethal killing devices. Yet under current Colorado law, he was perfectly within his rights to buy lots and lots of these items -- and a legal system that relies on parents to blow the whistle on potentially dangerous adult offspring can hardly be considered foolproof.

Here's the 9News report.

More from our Media archive: "Jared Loughner's attack on Gabrielle Giffords stirs Brit press to cite Columbine & Colorado."


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16 comments
patrickhmoore77
patrickhmoore77

Well, thank God Richard's mother had the good sense to report her troubled son to the authorities.  This appears to have averted what could have been a horrible catastrophe and highlights the need for gun control measures.

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

Insane Freaks - 4,652

Responsible Mothers - 01

rockiesfever
rockiesfever

When the attack for "comments on rape" is against the republicans its front page westword news. When its a stupid ass democrat that says it, its ridiculous that anyone would even dare bring it up...again, behaving in the exact way that u hate about your opposition. ....arent we supposed to be the intolerant ones?

Kristen Herrington
Kristen Herrington

I LOVE hearing stories about the authorities prevented a problem, rather than how they miserably failed! Thx for sharing!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

NRA's response -- but how will the "good" Mentally Ill defend themselves from "bad" Mentally Ill without their precious pistols?

Arm ALL Mentally Ill people !


Ann Kossack
Ann Kossack

Will this young man be released? He has threatened his mother before, according to the article.

Monkey
Monkey

(charges against him include menacing and attempting to possess a dangerous weapon)? 

The term “dangerous weapon” means a firearm silencer, machine gun, short shotgun, short rifle, or ballistic knife. Menacing means you "knowingly" place someone "in fear of imminent serious bodily injury." In other words, you try to make someone believe they are going to get seriously hurt right now – not at some future date.

None of these charges will be upheld in court, unless the "welded AK" was in the process of being built as a short rifle (under 16" barrel). These are suspicions, so he can be detained, but when it comes time to prove it, they will have no reason to hold him in custody.

All we hear is he could have done this, and he could have done that, just like any one of us. That is not considered menacing. If this 19 year old is as "mentally ill" as the mother suspects, she has every right to be concerned. The problem is what to do about the concern. If we blame guns, this boy gets no help. If we blame mental illness, this boy gets no help. If we blame the court system, this boy gets no help. The only thing that will help this boy is professional mental care, which costs too much for the average family, and has to be voluntary at his age. He can just as easily learn how to make bombs on the internet as he can learn how to make an AK-47. Do we blame the internet? Unfortunately, the mentally ill can get/make a gun, get/make a bomb or get/make a car, all of which is potentially dangerous. So how do we keep things that are used responsibly, such as guns and cars, away from the ill? Banning them for all? Banning the information about them? Laws are not designed to prevent anything, they are designed to punish those who break the law. For all we know, this boy can find peace when target shooting, as a form of therapy, but driving a car puts thoughts of crashing into a crowded bus stop in his head. It's easier to arm yourself, or ban arms, than to admit being powerless over mental health issues, but neither one helps the mentally ill. We can put on as many band-aids as we want, but the wounds will not heal if we spend our efforts looking for new band-aids instead of looking for the reasons we need so many band-aids.

David Kotzebue
David Kotzebue

If only Harris' & Kleibold's parents were this aware.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Monkey "None of these charges will be upheld in court,"

The ignorant leading the retarded.

Priceless.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@David Kotzebue ... if only all mental illness were so obvious.

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@DonkeyHotay @Monkey  <------ Why don't you two ever get along ? You have forgotten more than most readers know and I just don't understand the ongoing bickering between you both . It nearing 'rockiesfever''s level of patheticness ...

Of course you understand I ask this w/o any disrespect to either of you two . I've learned a great deal from you both .

Monkey
Monkey

@Juan_Leg   I guess you can't agree or disagree with someone all the time. But it's usually my fault when it comes to the bickering, I need to learn to ignore the Donkey a little better. 

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