Family of Deaconess shooting victims seek mental health reform - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Family of Deaconess shooting victims seek mental health reform

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Family of Deaconess shooting victims seek mental health reform Family of Deaconess shooting victims seek mental health reform
SPOKANE, Wash. -

Standing over a memorial for his daughter, Sheena Henderson, Gary Kennison remembers the pain he felt on July 8th.

"It can be emotional," Kennison said. "It makes me feel proud of my daughter."

Proud of the lives she touched before her husband, Christopher, shot and killed Sheena at Deaconess Hospital before taking his own life.

"He helped everybody and she helped everybody," Kennison said. "But they didn't help him."

Kennison feels a broken mental health system failed his family.

On May 16th, Sheena Henderson called police after Christopher threatened suicide, then disappeared in his van with a firearm on him. It didn't take police long to find him, but they released Christopher three hours later after a short evaluation.

Less than a month later, Christopher Henderson got that firearm back from police, then went to Deaconess Hospital.

"Now I have two beautiful grandchildren that have no parents because that basic, simple call for help was ignored," Kennison said.

So the Kennison family is fighting for new state legislation that would intervene before another family loses loved ones.

Sheena's family and friends spent Monday in Olympia, Washington. They introduced two new bills, and spoke in front of congress in support of "Joel's Law," which would allow family to appeal a court's decision not to refer a family member for involuntary evaluation.

The two bills the family introduced are Sheena's Law and the Sheena Henderson Act.

Sheena's law would allow an officer who encounters someone who's suicidal but not taken into custody to note a need for a mental health evaluation within 12 hours. A mental health professional would then be contacted and would need to fulfill that request.

The Sheena Henderson Act would require, if requested, a law enforcement agency that confiscates a weapon to notify family of the individual it was taken from when a firearm is returned.

"It would be so wonderful to know that my daughter and christopher's legacy would go out as helping others, just like they did in life," Gary Kennison said.

"And you couldn't ask for a better legacy."

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