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Nebraska Target Shooter, Mentally Ill, Obtained Gun Four Days Before

The man who was fatally shot by police after entering a Target store in Omaha, armed with an AR-15-style rifle had obtained the weapon just four days earlier at a Cabela’s sporting goods store, police said Wednesday. No one else was hurt, the Associated Press reports. Joseph Jones, 32, had no prior felony convictions or contact with the police in Omaha's Douglas County. He entered the store around noon Tuesday, where police said he fired several rounds, sending shoppers and workers scrambling for exits and cowering in bathroom stalls. Along with the rifle, he had 13 loaded rifle magazines of ammunition. Jones’ uncle, Larry Derksen Jr., said his nephew had schizophrenia and that his mental illness left him isolated.


“My nephew went into Target. I believe he had no intention of hurting anybody. He fired off a bunch of rounds,” Derksen told KETV-TV. “He had an AR-15 before law enforcement got there. If he had any intention of killing anybody, he would have. He would have had time to do so.” Mental health experts say that most people with mental illness are not violent. They are far more likely to be victims of violent crime than perpetrators, and access to firearms is a big part of the problem. Derksen called the incident “predictable” and said his nephew never should have had a gun. Callers flooded 911 dispatchers with 30 calls for help, and Omaha police officers and a Nebraska State Trooper rushed to the scene. They quickly encountered Jones and ordered him to drop the rifle. Police said officer Brian Vanderheiden, a 20-year police force veteran, fired, striking and killing Jones. Vanderheiden was placed on paid administrative leave per department policy.

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