NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — News 2 is learning more about the criminal history of the man accused of shooting a Belmont student walking in the Edgehill neighborhood Tuesday afternoon.
Nashville District Attorney General Glenn Funk released a statement Wednesday saying his office tried to prosecute Shaquille Taylor last spring after Taylor allegedly shot at a woman and two children inside of a car. Funk said three doctors found Taylor incompetent to stand trial, however, he also didn’t qualify to go to a mental health facility.
Ultimately, Taylor was released from jail in May.
News 2 spoke with Mental Health Court Judge Melissa Blackburn about her thoughts on next steps for Taylor.
“I don’t think right now he’s going to get out. I think he’s going to be a guest of Sheriff Hall for quite a while,” Blackburn said. “If he is found incompetent, I think they will do their best to try to make certain he’s in a safe place and that he is unable to cause any harm to himself or to others.”
Blackburn said one of her first concerns when hearing of Tuesday’s shooting was how Taylor obtained the weapon. She said she would like to see laws updated to address individuals found incompetent in the justice system.
“Some type of waiting period or that you would not be able to purchase that weapon…I think we need to look at that; I think we need to think seriously about someone that has been deemed incompetent and now has a weapon and goes out and uses that weapon, because then we see the result of that,” Blackburn said.
“Part of our approach to public safety plan is ensuring that, not just law enforcement, but the rest of the criminal legal system are in alignment with what is appropriate, especially in the case of repeat offenders and especially in the case of repeat offenders whose involvement is in violent crime,” said Mayor Freddie O’Connell.
Both Funk and Blackburn said more beds are needed for mental health facilities.
“We definitely need more beds at Middle Tennessee Mental Health so that we’re able to accommodate more than 100 people. We have up to 250 beds at Middle Tennessee Mental Health, but I know they’re unable to staff them, so we need to find a way to motivate young individuals to go into nursing,” Blackburn said, adding that patients can wait months in jail before getting access to the mental health care they need.
Lawmakers also made it clear on Wednesday, that legislation needs to follow after this shooting.
“That’s why we need to consider legislation as was done in the special session, but there were a lot of things that weren’t considered that will be considered; there have been hundreds of millions of dollars invested in violent crime intervention grant fund, mental health resources; there is a mental health component to this particular case. I don’t know all the details of it, but I do know that there is evidence of a mental health issue there. We have a serious issue in America with crime and mental health,” said Gov. Bill Lee.
Majority Leader William Lamberth echoed the governor’s concerns.
“This is a terrible tragedy that could have been avoided if this person had been committed for proper mental health treatment and supervision. Under no circumstances should someone who has been declared incompetent to stand trial have access to any type of deadly weapon. We will be working to restructure our laws this coming session to protect innocent lives and create additional layers of public safety in critical times when it is needed most.”Majority Leader Rep. William Lamberth (R-Portland)