Police discuss mental illness, domestic violence, gun possession surrounding Sunday shooting

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Michelle Lee Owens (Image: Decatur Police Department)

DECATUR, Ala. – Speculation continues to surround a deadly shooting in Decatur Sunday.

Now that there’s talk of the suspect, Michelle Owens, having a mental illness, questions are coming up about her having a gun.

Police say her son called 911, and during the call he mentioned Owens was recently diagnosed with a mental disorder — bringing into question how she got the firearm.

“It’s very difficult to prevent someone from getting a weapon if we have no prior reason to prevent them from doing that,” explained Decatur Police Chief Nate Allen. “Based on my knowledge she didn’t have any red flags on her or against her.”

Chief Allen says it’s part of a bigger issue: if you see something, say something; and get help.

In this case, he says, that goes for mental illness, and domestic issues.

“Whatever her reason is for committing the homicide, the question will continue to be asked, ‘could we have helped her had we known.'”

That silence, he says, can be deadly.

“Upon talking with some of [Owens’] neighbors, you’ll hear people say ‘Oh yeah we knew,'” said Chief Allen. “But nobody told any authority figure, someone that could provide assistance and help for that family. And now, after the fact, it’s way too late to say ‘We knew.'”

The Owens family cousins have set up a children’s fund at Bank Independent. The bank will accept cash or checks.  The instructions are as follows:
Checks can be mailed to
Lawrence Edward Owens II
Account number in memo field
Mailed to dropped off at:
Bank Independent
P.O.Box 5000
Sheffield Al 35660