Man Accused of Killing Officer was Mentally Ill - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

08/13/04 - East Texas

Man Accused of Killing Officer was Mentally Ill

By Ramonica R. Jones

Bossier City police have put a name to the face of the man accused of killing one of their fellow officers in a stand-off on Wednesday.

Michael Hebert reportedly shot two rounds at an officer who was responding to a 911 hang-up call at his home. Police say the 65-year-old man had argued with his wife that day and threatened her with a gun. The woman's sister dialed 911, but dropped the phone and lost contact with authorities.

Hebert's wife and her sister got away safely. But officer Trey Michael Hutchison was shot twice. The former Lufkin police officer later died in a Louisiana hospital.

Hebert later shot himself to death.

Police say Hebert was depressed when he committed the murder-suicide. Family members say he refused to take medication prescribed for his illness.

Health officials say one in three people will show signs of mental illness. And, when they refuse treatment, it's up to family members to intervene.

Burke Center Medical Director, Dr. Mark Janes, says, families should "Just try to be supportive; learn all they can about the illness the person has, try to help encourage that family member to stay in treatment, take their medication, and basically, just try to keep them engaged in therapy."

Although many state hospitals have run out of room for patients, and many medical facilities have gotten rid of their psychiatric units, help is always available for those in need.

Licensed Professional Counselor, Michael Cunyus, says, "It's true that it is more difficult in this time trying to get people the services they need. There are times, whenever Rusk State Hospital is on diversionary status and can't even admit a patient during a time of crisis, and they have to use another hospital; maybe even drive as far as El Paso to get somebody the help they need."

Treatment doesn't have to take a financial toll. The state will fund treatments for patients who can't afford help. Cunyus says mentally ill patients may be more willing to accept treatment and take their meds if they had more support from their families and communities.

"The stigma of mental illness that people do feel...that mental illness equals bad behavior," Cunyus says. "You have some good people and some difficult people."

Family support and continued medication can help those difficult people become not so difficult.

For more information on how you can help someone suffering from a mental illness, call the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill at 897-2419 in Lufkin. Or you can call the Nacogdoches office at 560-9448.

Funeral services for Officer Trey Hutchison will take place Saturday at two p.m., at the First Baptist Church in Bossier City.

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