Local News

Police Say Man Who Fired at Police Headquarters Mentally Ill

Posted July 27, 1998

— The man accused of shooting two Capitol police officers has a history of schizophrenia. Monday, another armed man whom police say is mentally ill held officers at bay for five hours in Durham. Now, some people are asking how someone that disturbed can have access to such violent weapons.

Law enforcement officers are wondering, as well. They say it is a disturbing trend as they have to deal with such people more and more. Monday's shooting, they say, marks the third time they have had to deal with the same man. The first time he caused trouble, he was committed to a psychiatric hospital.

A tense standoff began at about 3 p.m. Monday when Victor Yarborough fired a shotgun toward the Durham police headquarters building from his motel room at the Temporary Quarters Inn. More than five hours later, police used tear gas to force Yarborough from his room.

Police say such encounters with mentally ill people create stressful situations, but Durham Police Captain Dwight Pettiford says police are sensitive to the unusual nature of such encounters.

Police say they don't know where Yarborough got the shotgun he used Monday, but say he may have purchased it recently. They say they find it disturbing that anyone can buy a shotgun without a criminal background check.

"A weapon of mass destruction should not be so easily purchased," said Pettiford.

Pettiford said all a person needs to buy such a weapon is personal identification.

Police say they are looking into the possibility of collaborating in some way with people who work with the mentally ill, much as they do with drug and alcohol prevention agencies through social services.

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