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Ventura County Star (CA)
January 18, 2001
Author: Michael Doty/Pearl D. Lieber/Jess L. Martinez/Barbara Carothers/Mike Blass/Mitch Yenney/George Horton
On Jan. 10 Hueneme High School – where I teach – played unwilling host to an unspeakable tragedy. Much has been said and will be said about the events that went down but this statement is a testimonial to what went right. The first concern for all responsible people during this incident was protecting lives. Teachers herded frightened students into the nearest classrooms. Staff cleared the quad of all students in what seemed like hours but was probably less than a minute. The community owes a debt of gratitude to the selflessness of the police who answered the call and put their lives on the line. The police conducted themselves in a professional manner and saved lives in what could have been a replay of Columbine.
A special commendation needs to go to the students. While keeping watch over a large group of frightened students in my own classroom I noticed several working hard to keep the atmosphere calm. Other teachers reported seeing students guiding others to safety including accompanying scores of strangers to their own homes. There was no discernible panic anywhere only quiet urgency.
That there was not greater loss was due to the actions of hundreds of “heroes” students staff and police. The Oxnard-Port Hueneme community should be proud of every one of them.
— Michael Doty, Teacher Hueneme High School
Thanks to reporter
I am a constant reader of the Star and reporter Tamara Koehler’s articles hold my attentive admiration specifically her Jan. 14 article “Mental health system is unable to cope.”
She provided a vivid description of the lack of proper treatment for the mentally ill and how it exacerbates the growing need of our increasing population. For years this prevailing gap has existed within the behavioral health system. Time itself has proliferated this emergent condition. Current incidents that occur throughout the county point to a sore need for a remedied system of care. Evidence of increased suicides and unnecessary death tolls invades our county.
We have a state-appointed mental-health director plus the county departments delegated under him to carry out services. But how and where is this to be answered?
If the current condition prevails we have a miserable degeneration of our society. It is a medical atom bomb and extreme safety problem.
Are we as the taxpayers going to let this happen? Stand up for human and humane rights!
— Pearl D. Lieber
(The writer is former secretary of the Ventura County Mental Health Advisory Board. — Editor)
People need to realize that we are losing our young men and women to mental-health practitioners who have for such a long long time done more harm than good. The young man recently shot at Hueneme High School was or had been on psychiatric medication just like so many many previous young persons involved in similar incidents. Psychiatry is obviously an in-our-face experiment with our children. I say that because if they could really help a person wouldn’t they do just that?
It is time that people wake up and look at what this group called psychiatry has done in the past and is doing now in our schools and with our children. When a child is placed on medication as a way to sedate rather than observe and handle the child with honest-to-goodness common sense there is something very very wrong.
That young Richard Lopez could one day be your son or daughter and then who could we blame? An ounce of prevention has always been worth a pound of cure and stopping psychiatric abuse is prevention for they have a track record of hurting both young and old.
I am resident of Ventura with children and would not like to see my children or anybody else’s children end up like Mr. Lopez or students of the other high schools involved in shootings by people who were or had been treated by psychiatric practitioners. I would also like to see psychiatry out of our schools. It simply doesn’t have a reason to be there.
— Jess L. Martinez
Re: Dale Marinus’ Jan. 4 letter “Invasion of privacy”:
If only someone had “invaded” Richard Lopez’s privacy and asked the questions regarding guns maybe we would not be burying this 17-year-old child. If prevention of death is not “relevant” to good medicine then what is?
— Barbara Carothers
Put 2 and 2 together
Re: your Jan. 14 article “Mental health system is unable to cope”:
How irresponsible you are for promoting more psychiatric treatment. Richard Lopez the 17-year-old who was shot and killed at Hueneme High School was on Prozac and Paxil both of which are psychiatric medications.
Your article is trying to use him as a poster-boy for more psychiatric treatment and early intervention. Psychiatric treatment is not the solution to senseless violence but rather contributes to it. Why do you insist on using something that doesn’t work and never has? Wake up people! How many times does this have to happen before someone puts two and two together.
— Mike Blass
Re: your Jan. 14 article “Mental health system is unable to cope”:
I cannot believe what I am seeing and reading in the aftermath of the killing of a hostage-taker at Hueneme High School. The hostage-taker is the victim? I don’t think so. Last I knew you commit a crime with a gun and you take your life into your own hands. From what I can see Richard Lopez knew this fully.
There are two things in this incident that have me bothered. The first is the army of grief counselors that has descended on our school system at taxpayers’ expense. The second is the fact that Lopez was on Prozac and Paxil at the time of his crime.
Let’s take up the first issue. Grief counselors: Since when did our schools become psychiatric clinics?
A school is for learning not counseling. Get them out of our schools; they have no place in them. If you think I don’t know what I’m saying take a look at my name and think back 23 years That’s right! I am the brother of Paul Yenney the 17-year-old boy who while with his girlfriend was beaten to death by three youths and his girlfriend was left for dead behind Channel Islands High School on Oct. 14 1977. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. This was a tragedy that to this day remains unsurpassed in my eyes.
My brother’s life was taken and the three criminals who took it are now free. They served their time and who knows what has happened to them since. Who was the victim? My brother and his girlfriend not the boys who killed him.
Not a single grief counselor was called to the school after this and for good reason. They were not needed. The tragedy that was my brother’s murder traumatized the community yet life went on.
Grief took its normal unobstructed course and eventually my family and the community got on with living without the unwanted help by the school system that thinks it is a mental-health facility.
It is a cold hard fact that people die. It is also a fact that people grieve. Both are everyday occurrences; they have always been and will always be with us in everyday life.
Now for my second point. This kid Richard Lopez is said to be the victim. How is that? Because he came from a broken home or because his father was abusive? He is being held up as an example of a broken mental-health and juvenile justice system and they are saying he fell through the cracks.
Well from what I have read in the Star he didn’t fall through anything. I feel for his sister and mother for their loss but I will not nor should anyone else think that he is a victim of anything other than a failed science that is today’s mental- health system and psychiatry.
Nowhere have I read that he was a violent person until the day he was killed by police who I commend for protecting the hostage. The hostage is the true and only victim in this.
But Lopez was prescribed Prozac and Paxil. If you read the labels on both these drugs you will find that among the side effects are suicidal ideas and compulsive violence.
To top it all off he was given a sedative. What a combination. It was just a matter of time before he killed someone or himself. In this case he couldn’t even do it himself and needed the police to do it for him.
The reason I bring up his psychiatric drug use is this: He was not prone to killing himself or hurting others prior to the prescribed psychiatric drugs. This is a common denominator in all the school shootings that have happened over the past six years. Colombine Oregon and Arkansas are all examples of the shooters being on psychiatric drugs prior to the shootings. The recent workplace shooting in Massachusetts shows yet again that there was mental-health contact prior to the crime.
We as a society are the victims of our own ignorance of what the mental-health system really is. It is a failure and has been from the beginning. Psychiatry breeds violence and death and when our schools call in the grief army it angers me to no end.
The best counselors a child has are his or her parents and friends. This is how it was prior to state-run mental health and will be again once all of us open our eyes and say “no more” to the failure that is the mental-health system be it public or private.
I make no bones I will not be happy until I see the day that there are no psychiatrists left practicing especially those in our schools.
— Mitch Yenney
A common link
Re: your Jan. 12 articles “Teen depressed suicidal sister says” and “DA calls for death penalty for Caro”:
Both the above-mentioned articles hit the front page of the Star on the same day. Do the tragic death of Richard Lopez and the terrifying murders committed by Cora Caro have any connection other than the deaths of young people living in Ventura County?
Richard Lopez was shot and killed by a SWAT sniper as he held a cocked gun to the head of a student at Hueneme High. On Nov. 22 1999 Cora Caro of Camarillo shot and killed Xavier “Joey” 11 Michael 8 and Christopher 5 then put the gun to her own head and pulled the trigger.
Is there an explanation to the violent deaths of these four young people in our county? According to the grandmother of Lopez “He was on psych medication and I have the bottles here.” Caro was also on psychiatric medications.
Besides the obvious similarity of the violent deaths of young people in our county Lopez and Caro had both been taking psychiatric drugs. Once again not unlike Columbine where the death toll was even higher psychiatric drugs have been found to be a common link in the tragic deaths of young people across our nation.
With the evidence mounting — the association of psychiatric drugs hand in hand with the early death and destruction of many young people — psychiatrists are still prescribing these drugs at an all-time high. Shouldn’t psychiatrists with this knowledge have some liability for the violent behavior that follows their “expert” evaluation and drugging that is supposed to help the person with their problems?
The residents of Ventura County should be told who prescribed these psychiatric drugs to both Lopez and Caro. In the future when acts of incredible violence take place in Ventura County I would like the Star to lead the way in exposing the link to the psychiatrist and his treatment of the perpetrator.
— George Horton
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