Gun ownership and mental health

Despite police thinking Justin Hefner may have mental health issues, Hefner was able to obtain his guns legally. Officials are now questioning the system in place for background checks, and resources available to deal with mental health.

Posted: Feb 20, 2018 4:04 PM
Updated: Feb 20, 2018 6:41 PM

PARIS, Ill. (WTHI) - Justin Hefner was taken into custody Saturday after posing as a federal official and showing up to the Edgar County Sheriff's Department armed.

Officials are now looking into his mental status.

The tricky part with Hefner's case is the gun strapped to his chest when he arrived at the sheriff's department ended up being a bb gun. That means officials weren't able to give him more serious charges. Only $20,000 bond stands between him and freedom.

But since police believed Hefner aimed to hurt people, they want to check out his mental health before letting him go.

Edgar County Sheriff Jeff Wood says, "This time we're just taking every precaution. We're trying to deal with mental health now. You know there's some issues there I believe."

Wood is referring to Justin Hefner. He says Hefner was arrested for posing as a federal official and showing up to the department armed. Because of threats made on the internet, officials believe Hefner intended to harm people.

Police say despite having possible mental issues, Hefner obtained his guns by the book.

Sheriff’s Deputy Dee Burgin says, "He had a concealed carry permit from Indiana and he bought his AR legally and he had it legally in his vehicle."

Burgin says Hefner was even transporting the weapon legally. Now, questions circle back to concerns of the suspect's mental health.

Deputy Burgin says, "I feel like maybe there's a loophole in our system, our check and balance system for purchasing weapons. But I hope that every day that goes by we make the system better. We make the checks better on these people so they can't get guns."

Judy Bradshaw has lived in Paris for 48 years. Even she sees the lack of mental health resources in the rural area.
Bradshaw says, "We need more health facilities for that purpose. But like everything else it's hard to do, and hard to fund."

That’s a statement echoed by Sheriff Wood.

Sheriff Wood says, "Our problem is lack of resources. You know we don't have the people, we don't have the training to deal with people with these kind of mental problems. We're just trying to get the right people in here, asking for help from anyone that can help us."

Sheriff Wood says larger government agencies have been contacted for help. He says his department is also planning on how to better handle situations like this in the future.

The first step in getting back to mental wellness is to find and get help. However, sometimes people don't know where to turn.
There are many resources available in the Wabash Valley:

Hamilton Center Mental Health Screening Online 


Hamilton Center
620 Eighth Avenue
Terre Haute, in 47804
(800) 742-0787

Mental Health: Southeastern Illinois Counseling Center Crisis Number: 618-395-5026

Human Resources Center of Edgar/Clark counties
118 E Court St,
Paris, IL 61944
Phone: (217) 465-4118
Afterhour Crisis Number: (217) 234-6405

MentalHealth.gov 

Terre Haute
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 75°
Robinson
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 70°
Indianapolis
Scattered Clouds
78° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 79°
Rockville
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 66°
Casey
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 79°
Brazil
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 75°
Marshall
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 75°
Partly Cloudy tonight with isolated rain chances west
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 191808

Reported Deaths: 7822
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook1100024920
Lake12491445
DuPage12021519
Kane9629303
Will9053344
St. Clair3897160
Winnebago3755129
McHenry3123114
Madison247074
Kankakee172568
Rock Island167934
Champaign162519
Peoria152535
Unassigned1365209
Kendall134323
Sangamon119433
DeKalb91730
Boone75823
Jackson69519
LaSalle68424
McLean62415
Macon57823
Adams5065
Tazewell4868
Randolph4527
Coles44820
Ogle4035
Clinton38717
Williamson3746
Whiteside33916
Stephenson3256
Union31823
Grundy3075
Monroe30513
Knox2911
Iroquois25711
Jefferson24719
Henry2321
Morgan2296
Vermilion2292
Cass22311
Warren1890
Bureau1792
Lee1651
Montgomery1617
Franklin1560
Macoupin1563
Marion1520
Perry1491
Effingham1391
McDonough13915
Christian1344
Woodford1343
Saline1302
Jo Daviess1241
Douglas1082
Logan1060
Livingston1052
Jersey982
Pulaski920
Clark792
Shelby751
Mercer733
Moultrie720
Johnson660
Washington640
White640
Fayette603
Bond593
Jasper597
Wayne591
Piatt560
Cumberland532
Menard530
Carroll504
Ford492
Gallatin492
Hancock471
Lawrence450
Mason450
Greene380
Massac370
Alexander360
Wabash340
De Witt330
Fulton330
Crawford290
Edgar280
Hamilton280
Marshall240
Clay200
Pike200
Hardin180
Richland180
Edwards170
Schuyler170
Scott160
Brown130
Putnam110
Henderson100
Calhoun90
Pope80
Stark70
Out of IL00

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 72254

Reported Deaths: 3023
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15503725
Lake7447274
Elkhart476082
Allen3789161
St. Joseph337381
Hamilton2668105
Vanderburgh188813
Hendricks1833106
Cass17749
Johnson1719118
Porter126639
Clark117846
Tippecanoe117711
Madison91565
LaPorte88330
Howard87265
Kosciusko84012
Marshall77122
Bartholomew76647
Floyd76045
Monroe72230
Delaware70152
Dubois67612
Boone66246
Noble65929
Hancock64138
Vigo58610
Jackson5725
Warrick57030
LaGrange55610
Shelby54227
Grant52130
Dearborn49328
Morgan45934
Clinton4093
Henry37320
Wayne35410
White35410
Montgomery34821
Lawrence33627
Decatur33232
Harrison32123
Putnam2868
Miami2672
Daviess26320
Scott26310
Greene24634
Franklin23813
Jasper2272
DeKalb2264
Jennings22012
Gibson2144
Steuben2063
Ripley1977
Fayette1837
Perry18112
Carroll1772
Starke1767
Posey1670
Orange16624
Wabash1633
Wells1622
Fulton1612
Jefferson1552
Whitley1506
Knox1490
Tipton1336
Spencer1313
Washington1311
Huntington1213
Newton11510
Randolph1154
Clay1095
Sullivan1031
Adams952
Jay860
Owen841
Pulaski761
Rush744
Brown731
Fountain682
Blackford622
Ohio624
Benton600
Pike520
Parke511
Vermillion500
Switzerland450
Crawford440
Martin430
Union370
Warren221
Unassigned0202