On the street on Wednesday, Judy Murray watched her grandson Andrew Patterson leave his house.
Soon she called her daughter Patricia Woods.
Woods passed this information on, as well as where Patterson was driving, to Hutchinson Police Department authorities, who stopped and searched his car.
There, police say they found “detailed plans to carry out an act of mass violence”. Later that day, police used a search warrant at Patterson’s home, where officers said they had found additional evidence related to a planned attack.
For several months, family members have been concerned about the mental health of the 24-year-old Hutchison resident.
“He was lonely and didn’t know how to ask for help,” Murray said.
Family members said they reached out to authorities and mental health organizations as Patterson escalated. Not much can be done, though.
Murray Woods knew they could not sit idly by, especially after being convinced that others might be in danger.
They have acted.
Andrew Patterson’s writings include violent thoughts and self-harm
Murray Woods, Patterson’s aunt, heard Patterson talk about his mental state, intrusive thoughts, and anger toward his peers. They said his thoughts included acts of violence, aggression and self-harm.
Murray spoke with her grandson often but saw what she called his “ultimate transformation into thoughts of aggression and desperation” as she desperately tried to help him.
“He was just sinking, sinking deep into this giant crater,” Murray said. “He started writing it down in a notebook—these intrusive thoughts—because he told me when he wrote it, it made him feel better.”
Murray said Patterson wrote Ideas about committing a crime to start the police response. Eventually, he wrote about planning and mass shootings at his workplace – the Dillons Distribution Center on Hutchinson’s Fourth Avenue.
Murray said she contacted the Hutchinson Police Department but said officers told her they could not take action without evidence. Murray Woods said they have spoken to law enforcement several times.
The Hutchinson Police Department declined to comment on the family’s allegations.
The family turned to the authorities in hopes of preventing the tragedy
Murray said she then turned to local organizations for help.
“Those thoughts would come back, so my daughter (Patterson’s mother) and I talked about getting himself checked out at[Hutchinson Regional Medical Center]and trying to get help from them,” Murray said. “He stayed there for about a week, and they gave him several diagnoses and medications, but none of them seemed to cause any kind of breakdown.”
Murray said Patterson, with the help of his family, then turned to the Horizons Center for Mental Health. The organization had long waiting lists for patient care, but Patterson needed immediate help.
Beth Akins, director of training and education at Horizons, said the average wait time for ongoing patient care is between six and eight weeks due to staff shortages and the expansion of programs offered.
“There is no system dedicated to setting up to help someone in the event of my grandson,” Murray said.
Akins said Horizons recently added adult crisis units and ambulatory crisis units to its list of services after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services designated Horizons as a certified community behavioral health clinic.
Family says violent graffiti and suicidal thoughts have increased
Murray said Patterson worked in the mailroom of The Hutchinson News until March when he was assigned to the Dillons Distribution Center.
Murray Woods said Patterson enjoyed his job as a security guard at the distribution center first and wanted to protect people.
Eventually, Murray said, the distribution center hired a family member with whom Patterson had a tumultuous relationship. He had asked the recruitment staff to reject the request.
Murray said that in his journal Patterson’s thoughts on violence and suicide worsened after the appointment.
Patterson does not own a firearm but began searching online to purchase one, she said, prompting the women to contact authorities with information about the magazine.
Murray Woods said they wanted to help Patterson and prevent others from being hurt or killed. They said they agreed to help the police arrest him.
Suspect’s family defends plan for people struggling with their mental health
“I think what needs to be done is there has to be an action plan for people who are in the same situation as there is somewhere you can go and make these reports,” Murray said. “They will do what needs to be done to keep Dade (Andrew) safe and anyone who might harm him safely.”
Hutchinson Police Department officers arrested 24-year-old Patterson at 1:51 p.m. Wednesday in Building 200 on East Carpenter Street. The department said in a press release that the arrest was based on his journal, the planned attack against Dillons warehouse staff, and other acts of violence detailed in the notebook.
Reno County District Attorney Tom Stanton told The Hutchinson News he expects to press charges by the end of the week.
“Prison is not where it should be,” Woods said. “He needs to be in a mental hospital to get help to feel safe in his head. Jail won’t solve the problem. It will make families not want to come forward when something is wrong.”
Murray Woods said they wanted to help Patterson with his mental state, but are now concerned that other families in similar situations may not communicate with the authorities.
Through tears, Murray thought about the systems in place that could have helped her grandson.
“When you love someone unconditionally and know they need help, where do you go? What do you do?” asked Murray. “He needs help. He doesn’t need to be mocked and ridiculed – I wanted to save him.”
Help is available for people with a mental health emergency
On Thursday, Gov. Laura Kelly signed Senate Bill 19, a bipartisan legislation that created a suicide hotline and mental health for Kansas residents. As a result, Kansans will soon be able to call 9-8-8 to receive support during a mental health emergency.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-8255 and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.