Rockwood murder-suicide: Police had contact with shooter in May

On Wednesday, Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich and representatives from the YWCA held a press conference addressing mental health and domestic violence issues, including Tuesday's murder-suicide at Rockwood Cancer Treatment Center. 

On Tuesday, Christopher Henderson walked into the 7th floor of the Rockwood Cancer Treatment Center and fatally shot his wife Sheena. Christopher then shot himself in the head and was pronounced dead later in the emergency room.

At the press conference on Wednesday, Chief Straub talked about one incident back in May where Christopher Henderson had contact with police after his wife called and said he was suicidal. Straub said Sheena told police her husband had threatened to commit suicide or "suicide by cop" and then left the house with a gun. 

Officers eventually found Christopher, who was armed with a gun, inside a parked car. Officers were able to get Henderson to surrender his gun and give up. He was taken to Sacred Heart Medical Center for a mental health evaluation and the gun was confiscated. 

Straub also said on Monday, the day before the shooting at Rockwood, that gun was released to Henderson. It is unknown if that gun was the one Henderson used in the shooting.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich also acknowledged that his deputies had contact with Henderson on Monday at his place of work after employees called to say he was being unruly and was going to harm himself. An employee told KHQ Henderson was talking about killing his wife and himself. Knezovich said in the press conference that his deputies spoke with Henderson and he appeared calm, and even told them he wanted to live for his kids. He was not taken to the hospital for a mental evaluation. The next day he walked into his wife's place of work and shot her, then shot himself. 

KHQ live streamed the entire press conference and we will post that shortly to this story. Below is Chief Frank Straub's statement in its entirety. 

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.