Chief Straub’s Statement Regarding Yesterday’s Murder Suicide:
Good afternoon. I am joined today by Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, Staci Cornwell with Spokane Mental Health, Chauntelle Bryant with the Spokane YWCA, Christen Kishel, the Spokane Police Department Psychologist and member of the Mental Health Steering Committee, and Assistant Chief Brian Schaeffer with the Spokane Fire Department.
Yesterday’s tragic incident clearly demonstrates the need for our community to work together to address the challenges posed by domestic violence and mental health issues.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Henderson children and their families.
The Spokane Police Department is committed to training all of our officers in Crisis Intervention methods and assisting those in mental health crisis.
- Currently, 95% of all SPD officers are certified in Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) methods.
- SPD is exploring opportunities to provide Advanced CIT training to a cadre of officers as well as deploying officers and mental health practitioner teams to respond to incidents involving persons in mental health crisis.
- SPD meets monthly with mental health professionals to enhance our ability to respond to calls involving persons in mental health crisis.
- Our officers are working closely with the YWCA to assist victims of domestic violence and connect these victims to services.
Yesterday’s incident is not the first interaction between the Spokane Police Department and Christopher P. Henderson.
On May 16, 2014, at approximately 4:00 pm, Spokane Police received a call from the victim in yesterday’s murder/suicide, Sheena Henderson. She reported that her husband, Christopher Henderson, was suicidal, had threatened to commit suicide or “suicide by cop”, had left the home, and had a gun.
Mrs. Henderson told officers where she believed Mr. Henderson might be. Officers responded to this location and found Christopher Henderson in his parked vehicle. Officers contacted Mr. Henderson, who was armed with a firearm. Officers convinced him to exit his vehicle, and to surrender his firearm.
Mr. Henderson was transported to Sacred Heart Medical Center for mental health evaluation and treatment. The firearm was booked into the regional property evidence facility.
The firearm was released to Mr. Henderson on July 7, 2014, after all records checks were completed and a waiver releasing the firearm was received from the Department of Health and Social Services on June 19, 2014.
We, as a community must come together to:
- Invest in services to assist victims of domestic violence.
- Invest in services to aid those challenged by mental illness.
- Continue to train all law enforcement officers in crisis intervention methods.
- Create and implement a police-mental health practitioner response team with Advanced CIT training.
- Continue collaboration between law enforcement, mental health, domestic violence advocates, and the broader community to prevent future tragedies.