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Sister: Man Struggled with Mental Illness Long Before Attack of Preschool Class in D.C.

Last month, a 43-year-old Maryland woman saw on social media that her brother, Russell Fred Dunkley III, 38, was involved in in an appalling attack on a public street. While panhandling, Dunkley became enraged when he had asked two preschool teachers for money and they warned him to back off, according to police. The teachers had been escorting 24 preschoolers on an afternoon walk when Dunkley allegedly punched and bloodied them and exposed himself. The Washington Post reports Dunkley's struggles with homelessness and schizophrenia, through the eyes of his sister.


Since their mother’s death in 2017, Dunkley had been loitering on the streets of their old neighborhood — a chronic nuisance and looming menace, residents complained — while D.C.’s mental-health-care system had done almost nothing to improve his condition. With psychiatric bed space at a premium, with no record of Dunkley ever brandishing a weapon or inflicting serious injury, and with rules restricting involuntary hospitalizations, there was only so much the system could do. When arrested, he was repeatedly hospitalized instead of prosecuted.

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