Helena-West Helena standoff suspect reportedly mentally ill, but owned guns

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HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. — Police confirmed to WREG that Raymond Williams Jr., the subject of a police standoff in Helena-West Helena earlier this week, had several guns in his house, even though he had a history of mental illness.

The family of Williams doesn’t have an official diagnosis for the mental illness that plagued him, but they said he struggled for a long time, only responding to close family members when he got in a bad place.

“They should have let his sister Porscha talk to him," family member Denise Marie Williams said. "I told my classmate to come talk to her brother because he’s got mental problems, so he wasn’t in his right state of mind anyway.”

Police said they believe Williams had mental issues as well, but they had to take their own safety into account during Tuesday night’s standoff.

Police claim Williams used one gun to kill Christine Fulmer and Deanna Banks and then pointed an assault rifle at officers when they arrived. They said a third gun was also used to fire at law enforcement before the standoff ended.

Investigators were unable to confirm whether Williams had more guns in the house, or if they were all legally registered.

“Because the Arkansas State Police has taken over this investigation, we don’t want to give that information out," Helena-West Helena Police Chief James Smith said. "However, we know that there were several weapons, and we believe that one or more of those weapons were registered to him.”

A new law that was passed in the general assembly earlier this year that clarified that Arkansas is constitutional carry state, which means you don’t need a permit to carry a handgun.

A second piece of legislation failed that would have allowed police to temporarily take guns away from people who are deemed to be unstable or a potential threat.

These laws essentially mean firearms are accessible, and it is difficult for law enforcement to take them away. Still, authorities ask that if you know of someone with a mental illness who might own guns, please ask for help.

“The bad thing about the whole situation was nobody notified the police officers earlier, to try to curb this," Smith said. "Maybe we could have been able to give them some help, and we could have been able to save some lives.”

Illegally possessing a firearm in the state of Arkansas is a felony offense.

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