Mass shooting threat suspect was Baker Acted here

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Charlotte deputies handled calls years ago about Punta Gorda man in FBI case

A Punta Gorda man had his mental health evaluated three times and was Baker Acted five years before making alleged threats to conduct a mass shooting at a church in Memphis, Tenn.

Thomas McVicker, 38, was arrested Monday in Indianapolis for the threat allegations. He has been ordered a psychiatric evaluation to determine if he is mentally competent to stand trial, according to court documents.

McVicker was diagnosed with schizophrenia prior to his arrest, and “the conduct outlined in the criminal complaint supports that Mr. McVicker is currently experiencing symptoms consistent with the diagnosis,” according a motion from his public defender Gwendolyn Beitz.

Read our previous coverage of McVicker here and here.

Between September 2013 and August 2014, McVicker had three run-ins with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, two with him ending in a crisis stabilization unit.

In the last incident — Aug. 11, 2014 — he was Baker Acted. McVicker told deputies that he was looking for a gun and if he was left alone the rest of the day and night he would kill himself.

Just a month prior, July 8, 2014, McVicker had been the subject of a suspicious person complaint. The complainant told deputies “(he) was acting strange as he was standing in the same area for a long period of time,” the incident report states.

When a deputy approached McVicker, he was cooperative but “seemed to be having some sort of mental issues.” The deputy evaluated McVicker for a Baker Act and determined he did not meet the criteria but asked him if he would like to talk to a professional to “work out his issues,” the incident report states. McVicker agreed and was transported to a Punta Gorda crisis stabilization unit without incident.

These incidents began Sept. 2, 2013, when McVicker’s mother wanted him Baker Acted.

She told deputies he had been displaying abnormal behavior: putting towels over the birdcages because he thought they were a demon, following her around while touching himself and rolling his eyes back.

At one point, McVicker said “maybe it would just be easier if he was dead,” his mother told deputies.

“She believes he has it out for her,” the incident report stated. His mother thought McVicker had a mental disorder, but he wouldn’t get it checked out.

Along with his strange behavior, he had been drinking, the report stated. “She could not handle it anymore,” according to the report, and she called him a cab so he could stay at a Punta Gorda Holiday Inn.

When approached by deputies about his mother’s concerns, McVicker told deputies “he and his mom have a different opinion about things” and he wanted to get out of the house for a while to clear his head.

McVicker told the deputy he never said it would be easier if he was dead, and “his mom is making stuff up.” He also said he didn’t want to harm himself or others.

After deputies contacted his mother again, she told deputies that “she believes (he) is putting on a good show.”

During his first appearance Monday, McVicker reported to his counsel that he had been experiencing “persistent and uncontrolled auditory and visual hallucinations” before his arrest, Beitz wrote.

Assistant United States attorney Barry Glickman told the Sun McVicker was “very quiet” during his first appearance and “didn’t seem like he didn’t know what was going on.”

McVicker took psychiatric medications for his condition, which were found in his possession upon arrest, Beitz wrote.

A Ruger P90 handgun was also found in his vehicle upon arrest, according to Glickman.

His mother also reported that McVicker sometimes uses cocaine and methamphetamine, according to court documents.

“Someone who is mentally incompetent cannot lawfully own a gun,” Glickman told the Sun Friday. “People convicted of a felony, people who abuse controlled substance, and people who have mental disabilities not under any circumstances should have any guns.”

His psychiatric evaluation will probably take 30 to 90 days, Glickman said.

McVicker is in custody under the U.S. Attorney General and will be transferred to a facility to be examined, according to court documents.

Originally published in the Charlotte Sun on Aug. 23, 2019.

Click here to view the published article.

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