Sean Fitzpatrick has a unique job for a 28 year old. He uses his personal experiences to inform law enforcement on how to correctly deal with people with mental illnesses. His story is one that is both remarkable and frightening.
During Fitzpatrick’s junior year of high school, he had begun to show signs of paranoid schizophrenia. The most prominent indicator was that he started hearing voices. Instead of seeking help, Fitzpatrick kept it to himself. The voices eventually drove him to the point where he wanted to die. Instead of taking his own life, he planned to trick the police into shooting him. Barricading himself in a room with a gun at school certainly got the attention of the police.
During a standoff, Officer John Gately was in charge of calming down young Fitzpatrick. In an interview, Gately remembered the young boy tossing a paper airplane at the police, which reminded him that he was just a kid. At that point, Gately told Fitzpatrick he would send everyone away and they could “talk and bulls**t”. When Fitzpatrick suddenly pointed the gun at other officers, the officers fired at him out of self-protection. Fitzpatrick took a bullet in the arm, abdomen, and face.
Gately, angry that he could not prevent this, told the young boy “Don’t give up. You can survive what has happened.” These words changed Fitzpatrick’s point of view and life. It was at this moment that he took the path to educating police on the correct way to handle these types of situations. It was these words that saved his life.