Parents say the system failed man charged with plotting theater attack

The parents of a man accused of plotting attacks at a movie theater and Wal-Mart store said they repeatedly struggled to find mental health care for their son before his arrest.

Bill and Tricia Lammers spoke with the Springfield News-Leader about their struggles in the wake of the deadly Dec. 14 school shootings in Connecticut.

“You think, ‘Thank God it’s not Blaec,’ ” Bill Lammers said. “I thank God we got lucky. Everybody in our community got lucky because he wasn’t able to do anything.”

Their son, Blaec Lammers, 20, has been jailed since last month on three felony charges, including making a terrorist threat. Lammers’ attorney, DeWayne Franklin Perry, has declined to comment on the case.

Blaec Lammers was arrested after Tricia Lammers went to law enforcement, reporting that her son bought an AR-15 and another semiautomatic rifle from a Wal-Mart store in Bolivar, about 130 miles southeast of Kansas City. It’s the same store where a police report shows Blaec Lammers was found three years ago carrying a butcher knife and a Halloween mask with plans to kill a clerk.

When questioned, Blaec Lammers confessed that he planned to open fire during a showing of the new Twilight film and at the Wal-Mart store.

Tricia Lammers has received phone calls from people who say she’s heroic.

“I’m not a hero,” said Tricia Lammers, who moved to Bolivar with her husband and the couple’s two children in 2009. He was the radiology director at Citizens Memorial Hospital before becoming a consultant. She is a patient liaison at the hospital.

“With the events that happened (in Connecticut), my heart tells me I did the right thing,” she said, adding, “Our city could be in the news.”

Bill and Tricia Lammers say their son has always been different. He was diagnosed with dyslexia soon after the first grade. He was quiet and shy. Other children picked on him. He lettered in academics his freshman year of high school in Omaha, Neb. Two years later he was expelled after saying he wanted to harm a teacher. He has homemade tattoos on his arms, belly and legs.

The couple has tried repeatedly to get help for their son, who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and an anti-social personality disorder. They recalled waiting for hours as hospital staffers called institutions around the state, trying to find one that had an open bed for their son.

They’ve spent as much as $30,000 on repeated hospitalizations and medications. There is still a balance of about $9,300 from their son’s last stay at Lakeland Behavioral Health System, a psychiatric hospital for children in Springfield.

They said the mental health system had failed them and their son.

“The system is broken,” Bill Lammers said. “There’s no place to turn to. You take them to a hospital, and 96 hours later they’re home. Maybe on Prozac, but they’re not fixed.”

They say better mental health care — not more restrictions on guns — is the solution.

“In a perfect world, mental institutions would open back up,” Tricia Lammers said. “You could take an individual there and train them to take care of themselves.”