January 13th, 2011
02:21 PM ET

Warning signs of violence: A mother's view

We are learning more about troubling behavior by Jared Loughner, the man accused of opening fire on a crowd gathered in Tucson, Arizona, to meet their congresswoman, Gabriella Giffords.

CNN Radio’s Jim Roope talks with experts who say that even if people try to react to warning signs, many violent events cannot be prevented.

Jeanette Halton-Tiggs is the mother of Timothy Halton, Jr., who attacked and killed a police officer in 2007.

“I knew there was something wrong with him at a very young age, about 8-years-old. He started torturing small squirrels and cats,” said Halton-Tiggs.

She said while he was young she could get help for him but when he turned 18 he was able to emancipate himself. The courts, in spite of numerous violent episodes including threatening President George Bush in 2002, let him out on his own. “He didn’t think anything was wrong with him. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He thought we were the problem,” she said.

Forensic psychologist Dr. Carole Lieberman says the state should exert more control. “The unspoken tendency is to go too far in giving mentally ill people the freedom to be on their own,” said Lieberman. “It’s really freedom to not get the help they need.

“We need to stop being so politically correct and misguided in thinking these lax laws are helping the mentally ill.” Lieberman believes state mental health hospitals should be brought back so mentally ill patients who are prone to violence and who do not take their medications have a place to receive managed care and treatment.

To hear the complete story, click the play button on the audio player above.

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Filed under: Psychology

soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Emmaleah

    I absolutely believe that state-funded mental health facilities need to be returned and renewed, run according to what we now know about mental health. Involuntary confinement to mental hospital saved the lives of three of my family members. All have resumed their lives though two are still considered to be disabled.

    We need for these NOT to be prisons. A good mental health facility can provide a sick person with the structure and safety they need until a solution is found for their condition. They can learn to advocate for themselves and to strive to reach their potential. Lower security assisted living facilities should also be developed for those whole may need ongoing care. These can be made to be cost-effective. In some cases, the most cost-effective system is also the best for the clients.

    January 13, 2011 at 16:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DMD

      You must be referring to another country. You don't live in the USA, do you? Have you seen the facilities in our country? Dismal. THe dr's are nuts, too.....

      January 14, 2011 at 16:09 | Report abuse |
    • waltinseattle

      That is the reality! psych wards or prioson wards. And we have seen just how nice the prisons treat the mentally debilitated. Pepper spry to gain compliance, and if it does not work "double down" i.e. another bigger dose of the same. When the poor freaked out sould is writhing on the floor, the screws can come in and play nasty. If you think I am exagerating, then you have not watched the films taken by Cal Prison Cameras and released to the press, and then to the entire world by the courts demands, once the judge saw for himself what was going on.

      by the way, thinking that others are the problem, not knowing you are psychotic...there is a name for this common symptom. And the symptom also affects something like 15-20 % of those who have had major strokes. The word is ANOSOGNOSIA. you can research it online in seconds.

      December 2, 2013 at 22:34 | Report abuse |
  2. PimmyZ

    Sounds as if "the courts" / GOVT is at fault yet again. STUPID govt.

    January 14, 2011 at 08:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • IsNot

      Actually, it is Ronald Reagan's fault. That fool, suffering from his own mental disorder, decided to cut mental health care with the claim the mentally ill can decide for themselves if they need care and "like living on the street".

      January 17, 2011 at 17:29 | Report abuse |
    • Mary Anne Smith

      Actually it was under the Carter administration that mental health facilities were closed nation wide and people with mental health issues were brought back into the local health departments for treatment. It was thought to be much more humane. Everyone could live in their own community and get mental health treatment. Nice idea, but it hasn't worked.

      Of course, at first government money followed and then it didn't as it so often doesn't; people not living in state treatment facilities wouldn't take their meds and more problems developed as you couldn't force them to take meds – they have rights too.

      It definitely was NOT under Ronald Reagan's administration that it happened. I remember when the State Hospitals here in Michigan started to close and it was in the 70s. I had a cousin in one, and when it closed, she went into a group home where she has been for almost 40 years. Other families were not so fortunate...they had to take their sick relatives back in and try to cope with their mental health issues – many families ended up with tragic results.

      November 19, 2013 at 17:32 | Report abuse |
  3. Kate

    Had there been a facility that would treat the mentally ill longer than 28 days then I would still have my mother. They released my sister knowing she was homicidal and suicidal. Three days later she stabbed our mother (her caretaker). She called her. She can't stand trial as she is mentally ill. If the family doesn't stay on top of things they try to release her from the mental hospital. She has been on meds now for 4 years so, of course, she is doing 'really will'. But she won't take meds on the outside which lends itself for her killing someone else.

    January 14, 2011 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Tiff

    If there had been state-funded mental hospitals, I would probably still have a relationship with my father. This article is absolutely right, even if you know something is wrong with someone, there's often very little you can do. With people who are schizophrenic, getting them to take their meds is impossible as they are always convinced that you are helping the government, nazis, aliens, spies, or whoever they think is after them. If you can't get away from them, you'd better be prepared to kill them, because there will probably be a day when it will be you or them. It shouldn't be that way in a country like ours.

    January 14, 2011 at 11:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. DMD

    The problem with committing people is that there are still a lot of "Nurse Ratchet"s out in the world, people who are psychiatric MD's who themselves have way too many issues, and will trample on every person's civil rights. They need CONSTANT observation themselves, by their peers, because they really are part of the problem. Sorry if I offend the good shrinks out there, but a lot of you are the problem, too. 🙁

    January 14, 2011 at 15:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • waltinseattle

      I love how you parrot all the old horrors, how you replay the last midcentury problems and pretend its still like that. I guess you should admit that yoiu are one of the SCIENTOLOGY and T. SZASZ anti -psychiatry crowd. They dont believe in mental illmess, except as a construct of the system to control people...as in all other parts of the system. It is seen as if all social controls were the Soviet GULAGS. well, that's you opinion. And its not a very well supported opinion, either socially or medically! you are welcome to ignnorance, but do not pass it as factual truth.

      December 2, 2013 at 22:28 | Report abuse |
  6. Bill

    As a parent of an adolescent with mental health issues, I am worried what's going to happen once she turns 18. She is already saying that she is going to stop taking her meds among other things. She is in a residential psychiatric treatment facility that costs an arm and a leg. Fortunately, she is doing exceedingly well but, once I have no control over her, all bets are off. We need to do more to help those with mental handicaps. Most can lead normal lives if appropriate resources are available. However, in this times of budget cuts, no gives a dam about the mentally ill or the most vulnerable in our society.

    January 15, 2011 at 11:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • allenwoll

      Bill - It is the responsibility of the parents of a mentally impaired child to take WHATEVER measures are necessary to protect society from the depredations of their offspring ! ! - At WHATEVER the cost to them.

      After all, WHO ELSE can possibly shoulder that responsibility ? ?

      August 14, 2012 at 18:34 | Report abuse |
    • waltinseattle

      Please ignore ALLENWOLL and his guilt trippings. I do not know what state you live in, but there are some with laws that you can use. Are you aware of NAMI? or TREATMENT ADVOCACY CENTER (Dr. Torrey Fuller), or Mental Illness Policy Org D.J.Jaffe) we have a web of concerned parents and family in several states who have been, or are , in your situation. D.J. found me after it was too late for my son (5 others then himself by gun) and is probably the best place to start. His website has state be state laws and he can point you to our facebook pages like friends of lauras law, nami conservatives, mothers of mentally ill (momi) etc. my screen name is my email at gmail dot com

      December 2, 2013 at 22:45 | Report abuse |
  7. cain30

    i know this story VERY well. officer west was one my dearest friends. lets get some facts correct here. on the day Timothy killed West, he made a comment about wanting to kill an officer that night. he stole a gun out of state and brought it to cleveland. in the months before he killed West, he assaulted an officer in another city. he had planned his actions out with full details on the night he murdered West. halton created a disturbance so the police were called. upon arriving to the scene, West had only one foot on the ground and his gun on his hip still safety clasped. halton then shot Officer West point blank. He then took off on foot, ditched the gun and ran to a house he knew. he proceeded to take off the bloody clothes and soak himself in a bath full of bleach. now tell me, is this a schizo? a man that plans a full attack on an officer? or does this sound like a hate crime towards the police? furthermore, he was not tried( to my acknowledge
    ) as insane. he only received life in prison because Mr and Mrs West could not endure the trial for the death penalty. so what's next? a book deal or movie deal for the Halton Family? i am completely sickened that this woman is going on t.v and is using mental illness as an excuse for what her son did. i understand the issue at hand is a mental illness but this was a poor choice of an interview for the subject matter. the way a child is raised and the education they receive has a huge factor in the play of the Halton family. it is not just mental illness that contributed to the actions of her son. when a parent fails at installing morals and proper upbringing, mental illness can not be a crutch. in short, this woman has not done an ounce of great service to society in this matter or any matter at that. giving birth at 14, no education and working as a waitress her whole life.her son is a murderer. that is the bottom line. she should have voiced her concerns in 2000 when he attacked an old man. in 2001 when he choked his own mother, in 2003 when he assaulted a police officer? but now she feels she has insight on the mentally ill? of course, because she has enough time go by to make her public move. sickens me.

    January 15, 2011 at 14:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Amanda Phillips

      As a parent I take great offense at your comment. You do not know who this woman is or if she tried to bring her son up morally. Adding your prejudicial views to this is rediculous. She sounds like a woman that worked hard her whole life to raise her son and pay the rent. He was an adult at this point and able to make his own decisions "even" bad ones. This is of no reflection on the parents. I have seen really good people come from drug addicts, abusers, Freeloaders and so on and i have seen some of the most dangerous criminals come from a home surrounded by a faith. How dare you try to pawn off any ones horrid actions on nurture over nature. Killers kill from the soul and generally aren't raised to be "killers'. Show me the parent that says my children are going to be mentally unstable and grow up hurting others. Doesn't happen. And by the way....if you are certain its this childs upbringing......how much do you support abortion or free clinics or maybe even give to the education fund for your local government above what your taxes pay. Do you volunteer your time? When you see one of these very same "mothers" do you approach and ask if you may aid her or may be of assistance? Find solutions instead of weakily throwing daggers. Try to remember this as well... Your mother has a pompous ass for a child....Do you think she hoped for tha the first time she held you in her arms?

      January 17, 2011 at 06:21 | Report abuse |
    • cain30

      amanda phillips, do you know the full story of this case or anybody involved? if not, your comments are meaningless to me. yes, i do many things for those in my community. that is not your business. i do not support abortion(that is murder) and that had nothing to do with issues presented. how dare I "pawn" actions off? how dare his mother "pawn " his actions off as mental illness. it was calculated murder. the solution is paying the price for the crimes created and not using the mental plea when you are too coward to face the charges brought against you. i do not dispute the negligence of this government when it comes to the care for mental illness, i believe the story would bring great enlightenment on the issue. but only by a different person interviewed. to you she sounds exactly the way she wants to be heard. in any regards, i don't need to justify my words or comments to you. if calling me names makes you feel better, have at it. i am simply shining the light on the facts of what her son did and dispelling the mental illness excuse behind it. even the court system found him competent to stand trial.and that's after more than one assessment. maybe you and her could get together and trade parenting advise. since you think you have it all figured out and clearly she raised a great child and all. if i offended you, don't read my comments.

      January 17, 2011 at 20:05 | Report abuse |
    • cain30

      and yes, i know more of this woman than you think i do. it is a fact she gave birth to him at 14, she had no formal education and only worked as a waitress her whole life. facts are facts not prejudicial views. furthermore, if she wanted to step up and raise awareness, she waited too long. nobody wants to hear from a cop killers mother about her son being sick. it just goes to show how messed up this world really is! was anyone listening when they released him how many times from court? where was her awareness then? or was it because it wasn't a high profile enough of a crime for her and him then? do you even live in cleveland? did you feel any of the pain her son caused? has any of your wounds been reopened by this lady? do you know any of the facts? there are parents on here that could i listen to all day and be in their corner regarding this mental illness situation., but not a cop killers mother. not the mother of the man the planned to murder my best friend. a man that never had the chance to defend himself. learn the facts before you want to call names and act self righteous. just because someone claims to be schizo doesn't make them truly that when they plan an attack and an escape route. not when they can thoroughly try to get rid of the evidence. this man was evil, not schizophrenic. and Jeanette Halton – tiggs is taking advantage of the case to gain publicity. come to cleveland and ask yourself. i am only one voice of many that feel the very same way. are we all pompous? not at all, because clearly you do not understand that word. but i bet you will quickly look it up to act like you have a brain.

      January 17, 2011 at 21:41 | Report abuse |
    • leonard

      cain 30 i cant agree more with you i dont think he has a leg to stand on here and his mother has got to be mental to this kid is tortuing cats and squirrels and she dosent think somethings wrong with him theirs just to many people making exscuses for themselves by claiming that they were insane or some crap like that im sorry that officer west had to die like that he probably deserved better

      February 3, 2011 at 20:08 | Report abuse |
    • waltinseattle

      Ill tell you this: your question "is this a schizo/" tells me you have no clues as to what is involved in the varieties of mental diseases. one does not have to be 24/7 floridly delusional to be "psycho." and this is one of the problems...getting an observation of the non-treated person at the most startling , alarming and unquestionable moment of symptoms writ large. so please, don't play doc with no study under your belt full of opinions? thanks for being reasonable about it!

      December 2, 2013 at 22:49 | Report abuse |
  8. Kelly

    Until we fix the very broken mental health care system this sort of thing will continue to happen. I had two adult sons with mental illness. We had to commit both of them at various times. Once they turn 18 all bets are off. Our one son with schizophrenia decided to once again not take his meds. Unfortunately doing that left him with very poor judgement. He went swimming in the ocean at night and never came back. What many don't understand is once they are 18 you can try your best to help them but you can't force them. The police can do little unless they commit a crime. Usually people with mental illness who have been in the hospital know what to say and what not to say to not get held. It is a crap shoot to whether you get a doctor who will listen to the family. I don't know what the answer is but it's not what we are doing now as a nation.

    January 16, 2011 at 11:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. ragmannv

    We have a adult son who was diagnosed early with ADHD, which was in error. He was eventually diagnosed, in his early 20's, with manic depression as well as schizophrenia and paranoia. He, and we, have lived with this illness for too many years. His illness led to incestuous activity in the family with a sibling who later suffered from alcoholism and drug abuse and is now, finally clean 18 months, trying to put the incest behind her but not yet forgiving. Our son has never admitted the incest, but has hinted that he did some very inappropriate things to his sister. Currently, he lives on Social Security disability and is voluntarily in and out of hospitals in California. He has learned to recognize when he is having issues and then enters the hospital psychiatric unit to have his medications adjusted to assist him in living a near normal life.
    It took the medical profession and the mental health profession many years to understand that ADHD is not the area in which all children with school and attention problems can be lumped. We have learned that testing is now available to determine manic depression at an early age (1st grade) and we strongly encourage all who see inattentiveness and mood swings in young children, to have them tested at once. It is often NOT ADHD.

    January 16, 2011 at 12:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Nancy

    I had a mentally ill brother and mother and for the last 11 years my youngest son. All were committed to hospitals at various times because of paranoia, threats of violence, etc. I was 8 years old when my mother was hospitalized and given electric shock treatments and tranquilizers and sent home to 2 very confused children who did not understand any of it. My father worked afternoons and we had the next door neighbors' adult daughter come over to take care of us and her favorite game was "murder" literally and we hid for our lives. As much as I tried to protect my brother he was always the victim (no bullets in the gun). My brother developed symptoms as an adolescent, was in and out of hospitals, homeless, hated the side effects of psychiatric meds and died 2 years ago. I was married until 11 years ago when my son had a mental breakdown and his father asked me to choose between him or my son because "he wasn't going to take care of his son for the rest of his life". I divorced him. My son has his better mental health these days (only on medication, going to AA, seeing a doctor) My point is that mental illness has many victims and no perfect solution. Get involved, go to a support meeting, learn how you can be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

    January 16, 2011 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. cain30

    the nation would be more interested in reading interviews with above three parents. i am bias due to the situation and the true facts behind the story. i know that mental illness victims suffer from the poor responsibility that this nation takes. i just feel the mother interviewed was the wrong choice. she lived in poverty way before she "went broke" trying to get her son help, it seems a cry for attention for her self rather than the problem.

    January 16, 2011 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • 1mother

      I am sorry for your pain but your facts are incorrect.Jeannette Halton Tiggs is a member and spokesperson for NAMI.Timothy was raised in the church,his grandfather is Bishop Stanley Halton.He was raised in a respected middle-class household,his mother married and gave birth at 16.Yes she is a server with an annual income of $50 to $60 thousand,but even then she couldnt afford his meds.He was not a part of that fight,he did not still a gun from out of state.Timothy has over 25 hospitalizations,He has been sick since age 8,25 doctors cant be wrong about his diagnoses.His mother is not doing this for publicity,she is trying to keep the focus on mental illness so this does not keep happening.The state dropped the ball in Timmy's case.cain30 you cannot blame jeannette and accuse her of poor parenting anymore then she has blamed herself.She is sorry for Jason West death and that Timmy and Jason crossed paths.Timothy and thousands of other americans have a brain disease that need consistent treatment to function well in society.

      January 18, 2011 at 02:14 | Report abuse |
    • cain30

      she gave birth at 14, divorced my 18(it was a violent marriage).his father was never around. he did in fact steal a gun in PA. and as far middle-class?she received no education at all. she was a waitress her whole life. even working at her fancy steak place 60 is a stretch for a income in that industry.your opinion of what a"respected middle class home" is also far stretched. if "25" doctors were right, then why was he found competent to stand trial? i suppose all the reports and police investigations are wrong and the only right people are you and her. is that correct? i am aware that she is a member of NAMI, and also that she is writing a book. how long did she wait until to begin her crusade publicly? i assume they will make a movie too. tell me, is she going to donate 100% of all income from those to charity and NAMI? probably not.let's not forget, TIMOTHY PLANNED OUT HIS ATTACK!!!

      January 18, 2011 at 15:59 | Report abuse |
    • 1mother

      Please educate yourself and get your facts correct.The gun was stolen by from someone else who was later arrested for coming to cleveland and selling it on 55th,check with any server working in fine dining $60 thousand is no stretch W2's dont lie,nor do birth certificates,she graduated at 16 a year and a half early.Timmy was medicated for two years to get him ready for trial even the prosecuters doctor,DR.West said he was phsycotic and schizophrenic,i can tell you dont understand much about mental illness,and thats ok,that is why jeannette is writing the book, people need to know how these tragedy's happen and how we can prevent them.No one but Timmy knows what was in his head that night .What does all this matter now?Jason West is dead,killed in a heinous manner that he did not deserve, and i pray you can find peace and forgiveness.GOD BLESS YOU.

      January 20, 2011 at 22:52 | Report abuse |
    • cain30

      you can ask the West family, myself, community of cleveland heights, friends of Jasons and the men in blue why this all matters now. If the statements I made are incorrect, then Jeanette is lying. she went on record in interviews admitting to no formal education. it came form the horses mouth, oh let me guess...the reports are all wrong and interviews are all wrong? it matters because this all about publicity for her. nobody in the general public heard a peep from her before her son murdered a cop. her cries for awareness were not loud until her son did real damage to society. i wouldn't be surprised if you were jeanette or one of her " middle class" family members. so for two years he was evaluated and found competent to stand trial? correct? indeed. as far educating myself.. i can promise you that i am highly educated. you see, i stand on one side of the fence. that side stands for justice and morals. not only did her son murder a cop but now our taxes are paying for his medical treatment to help him( on average $25,000 a year). can you explain that one? since you know soooo much, what year did she become a spokesman for NAMI? there should be more attention given to the mentally ill victims and their treatments, yes, but not only after they commit a crime. the law is the law. murder is murder. there is a price to be paid not matter what. the only peace any of us on Jasons side would have is when the animal is dead too. your words do not penetrate my emotions. if "timmy" is the only one that knew what was going on in his head that night, then why did he mention killing a cop that morning? hmmmm? she has no right to gain an income of book sells nor publicity across the country side over what her son did! she has no right telling Mrs. West that she can contact her through the chief of police if she wants to talk ( on live radio in New York).

      January 24, 2011 at 22:05 | Report abuse |
  12. Pungentfall

    Reading these stories only reinforces my belief that the mentally ill are around every corner in America. People are losing their children, parents, siblings and friends to mental illness and the overall tone from everyone seems to be that they don't/didn't know what to do. My sister has schizophrenia but is not aggressive and throughout my childhood and into my adulthood, she has been in the health care system. My father (a single parent) has done the best he could for her her whole life. Now, he is in a nursing home and I will be responsible for her until she is old. These are responsibilities I gladly bear for her. However, it is much easier for me since she is NOT violent and refusing to take her medication. Sadly, I see her face in the homeless on the streets. A parent can only do so much for their mentally ill children and for how long can they be responsible for them? People want less government but honestly, how can we afford to have these people on the streets? The funding and planning for this perennial problem needs to be addressed or there are going to be more Tucsons, more police shootings, more senseless violence, we have to protect our citizenry, which includes the mentally ill.

    January 17, 2011 at 16:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Michele

      You made a statement that needs to be emphasized which is, your sister is NOT violent and takes her medication. People should realize that most people diagnosed with a mental illness, even schizophrenia are not violent. As a matter of fact, most violent crimes are committed by people with NO mental illness. Your sister is very lucky to have you!

      February 11, 2011 at 20:26 | Report abuse |
  13. burlington

    The problem is there are people with mental illnesses who fall in an in between category. I suffer from OCD, anxiety, and ptsd. Some years and months I function completely normally and am quite a successful individual. Most people who know me casually may not know that I suffer from an illness. However, every once in awhile, my disability acts up and I need a little help caring for myself. It can last several months to two years at a time. That is more than short term disability from work and more than most mental health programs allow you to stay. Where would these state funded treatment centers draw the line? On one hand it is nice to feel there would be a place for me to go if ever I needed it and had no caretakers or support but on the other hand I am often a fully functioning, intelligent, and capable person and I would never want my rights taken away from me when I felt I could care for myself.

    January 27, 2011 at 17:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. burlington

    I should have mentioned I am never violent. That does not apply to my situation. Perhaps my response does not make sense in regards to this article.

    January 27, 2011 at 17:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Carol

    By not having funding and resources to order appropriate treatment, most violent mentally ill patients aren't stopped until they have harmed someone. As a social worker I knew a middle class family that moved away from a schizophrenic son. He tracked them down and ultimately murdered them. There are many more stories like this out there. Families have no one to turn to, and there are no places to send their mentally ill family members. This means everyone is at risk because society is not generally dealing responsibly with a serious problem.

    March 28, 2011 at 13:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • vicki

      Amen to that that's where my husband and I are now no one wants to help and doctors here are stupid

      December 30, 2013 at 17:28 | Report abuse |
  16. vicki

    I have a step son and he is mentally ill and no one wants to really help him. He has been in and out of treatment centers here in Ar. But he goes for a couple of months then they release him then not shortly after they release him he's back in the hospital. He is 14 now and we have been going through this since he has been 4. And no one seems to care if the doctors and counselors know he will just be back why do they keep releasing him what are they waiting for? For him to hurt his self or someone in the home. I can tell you this if anything happens to him or any of the other kids or myself or husband in our home they will be sued. I have been told time and time again by these so called doctors and counselors that they will keep him due to his mental illness. But two months down the road they release him even though he is still having bad behavior while he is in the hospital. All I can say is wow.

    December 30, 2013 at 17:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. san

    President Carter did sign the Community Mental Health-care bill, it was a month before he left office. President Reagan did indeed dropped the ball on Mental Health by de-funding the programs, closing Mental Health-clinic's/hospitals, etc. Since then people have gotten very little help with very few programs to turn to for help. There are thousands of families suffering with mental health issues in this country with no where to turn.. Shame on this Country, we are better than this.

    February 10, 2014 at 23:12 | Report abuse | Reply
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