'Twilight' massacre thwarted: Mother turns son in
"The fact that somebody is held for 96 hours, if there's nothing else besides that, it's like picking somebody up on a reasonable suspicion arrest and no other charges are filed," Covington said. "It's a big difference between being picked up and looked at, and picked up and having a medical person say this person is incompetent."
Polk County prosecutor Ken Ashlock, who wasn't the local prosecutor in 2009, said he doesn't know what happened to Lammers after his 96-hour evaluation. A longer mental health commitment would have required the type of court preceding that would have barred Lammers from obtaining a gun. But given that Lammers was able to purchase two firearms last week, Ashlock suspects nothing more happened after the initial evaluation.
Polk County Sheriff Steven Bruce said he's worried about how the state handles cases involving the mentally ill.
"If you have mental issues, if there has been enough of a concern from a family member or public or whatever to alert us to a condition that they feel that you have and we then 96-hour you - good, bad or otherwise - I think that needs to be a point of record," Bruce said.
Investigators wrote in a probable cause statement that Lammers bought two assault rifles legally in Bolivar. When they questioned him last Thursday, he said he bought tickets to a Sunday "Twilight" screening in Bolivar and planned to shoot people inside.
Lammers also said he planned to shoot people at random at the Walmart store less than a mile away, so if he ran out of bullets, he could steal more "and keep shooting until police arrived," investigators wrote.
Investigators said Lammers was "off of his medication," but his mother said Tuesday she didn't think that was the case. A judge has ordered Lammers to undergo another mental health exam.
Bruce, the sheriff, said mental health care is "pretty precarious" in Missouri and the help people need isn't always there because "funds are low."
"The biggest problem is people with issues who it takes medication to keep what we would consider a normal balance," he said. "And when they don't take those, I don't know that they necessarily realize how imbalanced they can become."