Walmart shooter never ruled ‘mental defective,’ a lack of records indicate

Adjudication for mental illness could have prevented shooter’s gun purchase.

A lack of records in local probate courts suggests the Beavercreek Walmart shooter was never committed due to his mental health, which would have prevented him from legally purchasing a gun.

It is unknown how doctors decided to treat Benjamin Charles Jones when Fairborn police brought him to Soin Medical Center twice in 2022 on a pink slip — an application for emergency admission when someone is deemed a danger to themselves or others — because Jones was experiencing suicidal ideation.

Probate courts in Greene, Montgomery, and Clark counties all confirmed for the Dayton Daily News that Jones did not appear on their dockets and there were no mental health records for him.

The lack of records indicates an affidavit of mental illness was never filed with a probate court, which would have started the legal process and prompted a court hearing to determine whether Jones should be committed, either inpatient or outpatient, for his mental health.

If Jones had been adjudicated or committed, a probate court judge would have shared that information with the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI). BCI records, such as commitments and competency hearings, are shared with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), BCI says.

Federal firearms licensees use NICS to run background checks on gun buyers after they fill out ATF form 4473, which prohibits people from purchasing a gun if they have “ever been adjudicated as a mental defective” or if they have ever been committed to a mental institution.

State law would have also prohibited him from owning a gun as being committed for one’s mental health make someone “a person with a mental illness subject to court order,” which would violate Ohio’s prohibition on “having weapons while under disability,” according to Ohio revised code.

Kettering Health responds

In addition to preventing Jones from potentially purchasing a gun, being committed could have also led to more supervision from mental health professionals and the court.

Kettering Health, the parent organization of Soin, has declined to comment on what happened after Jones was taken to Soin twice last year, once on or around April 5, 2022 and again on or around May 8, 2022. HIPAA protects patient records 50 years after death, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“When a patient arrives at one of our facilities under an involuntary hold, we follow a system-wide, standardized policy that aligns with our obligations defined in the Ohio Revised Code,” Kettering Health said in an organizational statement.

“Our procedures keep patient and staff safety top-of-mind, prioritizing a cross-functional and proactive approach with the patient and continuity of care with our community partners,” Kettering Health said.

Jones’ pink slips last year

The first time Fairborn police admitted Jones to Soin on a pink slip last year, on or around April 5, Jones said to the officer he was having thoughts of suicide, according to the police report. Jones told police he had been stressed and had recently moved from Nevada to Ohio. It was after Jones said he would attempt suicide that the officer took Jones to the hospital.

The second time Fairborn police admitted Jones to Soin on a pink slip was about a month later, on or around May 8, 2022, when he reported feeling suicidal again. The police report says Jones had recently admitted himself to the hospital for a mental health evaluation, at which time doctors placed him on medication. Jones told police he had not been taking the medication “due to the way it makes him feel.”

Jones, who was 18 at this time, was feeling overwhelmed by “everything” and “the thought of becoming an adult,” he told police. Jones was having thoughts of wanting to kill himself in the “least painful way possible,” he said to police, also saying he had thought about using a gun, according to the police report.

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