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Father: Suspect didn’t take schizophrenia meds; family sought help before Orangeburg hospital shooting

From the Complete coverage of the shooting at the Regional Medical Center series
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The father of the 23-year-old man who’s accused of opening fire in the Regional Medical Center apologized to the victims on Thursday. He says his son suffers from mental illness.

Daughter: RMC shooting victim on life support; suspect remaining in jail without bond

“On behalf of my son, I would like to apologize and send my sympathies to all that were involved in this case,” said Abrian Sabb, who shares the same name as his son.

RMC shooting suspect allegedly broke into neighbor’s home, took gun back

He said his son, Abrian Dayquan Sabb of Orangeburg, has been suffering from schizophrenic episodes because he hasn’t been taking his medication properly.

The son was charged with attempted murder in Wednesday morning’s shooting incident, which left a hospital employee critically injured. He’s also charged with first-degree burglary and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.

The father spoke with news outlets Thursday after a bond hearing for his son. Bond was denied.

He said his son’s girlfriend called him and his wife at about 1 p.m. Tuesday to report that his son “basically flipped out.”

“He’s a mentally ill patient and he hadn’t been taking his medication now that we know since August (of 2018),” he said.

“I immediately told her to call the police because he had already had a situation that happened before that. He had an episode with it and it also turned into a bad situation but not quite as worse as this,” the father said.

“She didn’t call the police and she loves him and she didn’t want him to go to jail. She’s a young lady, she didn’t understand the danger she was in and she was trying to protect her friend,” he said.

Gunman allegedly confessed; newly released reports say RMC shooting suspect spoke to investigators

He said that as he and his wife traveled from their home in Georgetown to Orangeburg, he called the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office.

“I insisted to the sheriff’s department that they take him into custody because I knew the situation was very bad,” he said.

At 1:41 p.m. Tuesday, deputies were asked to visit the girlfriend’s Casa Court apartment. She reportedly tried to get a handgun from the suspect when it accidently discharged.

She told deputies that she didn’t fear her boyfriend harming himself or her, a sheriff’s office incident report says.

The father said, “So I told (a deputy) for the sake and security and the safety of the victim and suspect, would you please take my son into custody so that we won’t have him to hurt anybody else?”

“They told me that they could not do it,” he added.

The father said that he retrieved the handgun and assured deputies that they’d take him to the hospital.

They didn’t go to RMC at that point. Instead they went to the Orangeburg Area Mental health Center.

“This is the center he’s been going at. He’s been trying to get help,” the father said.

“We took him there and they told us they couldn’t do nothing for him today and to bring him back on Friday,” the father said.

He and his wife went back to Georgetown after their son began to show signs of improvement, the father said.

The father said their younger son was with their 23-year-old son on Tuesday afternoon.

“And my younger son, not knowing the seriousness and extent of it, purchased a gun for him,” he said.

The younger son legally purchased it at a gun shop, he said.

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The father described the gun as a .223-caliber semi-automatic rifle.

“After that, he came back to house and that’s when his girlfriend saw the gun and she contacted us and told us he had another gun,” he said.

“We immediately told her to call the police,” he said.

The father explained that he and his wife talked for a few minutes about whether they should turn around and head back to Orangeburg, but they learned that the younger brother and girlfriend hid the gun at a neighbor’s apartment.

His son went to sleep and at around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, the suspect’s girlfriend accompanied him to RMC so that he could get a shot to treat his schizophrenia.

“My son sat there for over an hour,” the father said.

“My question is, why didn’t they secure him in a room and all of this would’ve never happened?” he said.

He noted that the situation escalated when they told his son that they didn’t have a bed for him.

“He was dealing with this sickness from the day before and he really needed that shot and he wanted that shot real bad. He fought it all night to come back to the hospital and get the shot so that he could feel better,” he said.

“They denied him that. For whatever reason, they denied him that,” he said.

“All I want to know is why is it in this country, as many mental illness cases that we have, of many kids getting killed in schools, people getting killed in churches, people, now it’s happening in the hospitals? Nobody has stepped up to the plate and done anything to help these young people and make sure these policies are put in place,” he said.

“My son is not a murderer, he’s not a killer, he’s not a violent person, he’s mentally ill and he needs help,” the father said as his voice cracked with emotion.

“I’m not trying to get him out of jail, I’m trying to make sure he gets the treatment he needs,” he said.

As for the handgun allegedly used in Tuesday’s incident, the elder Sabb said that his son purchased it a few years ago before he showed any signs of mental illness.

He said a doctor diagnosed his son with schizophrenia two years ago.

He’d tried to get the handgun from his son over the past couple of years, he said.

He said his son moved to Orangeburg to attend college.

He described his son as a, “young, vibrant guy who wants to have a future.”

He also said that his 6-foot-6 son is “a big teddy bear.”

Orangeburg County Sheriff Leroy Ravenell said later on Thursday, “This now-defendant called the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday after a dispute with a woman. There was nothing in the actions described that rose to the level of a criminal charge that day.

“While the family indicates Mr. Sabb has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, there were no probate papers indicating as much presented to us that could lead to an individual being taken into custody. We spoke with them on the phone and waited 30 to 40 minutes for them to arrive in order that Mr. Sabb would be provided some type of care.

“They indicated to us they would take him to obtain mental health.

“Without a criminal charge, nothing from probate court, we could not take him. They thanked us that day for our compassion and concern before taking him, and we haven’t heard anything from them since asking for any further help or assistance.”

S.C. Department of Mental Health Public Information Director Tracy LaPointe said, “Due to state and federal privacy laws, the South Carolina Department of Mental Health cannot confirm whether or not an individual has ever received services.”

LaPointe also noted, “We want to remind those in the area that Community Crisis Response and Intervention services are available in Orangeburg and encourage anyone who thinks he or she, a friend, family member or neighbor may be experiencing a mental health crisis to reach out using the toll-free number: 833- 364-2274. This service is available 24/7/365.”

LaPointe said the Community Crisis Response and Intervention services are currently active in 22 counties and the program aims to be available statewide by the summer.

Complete coverage of the shooting at the Regional Medical Center

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Contact the writer: mbrown@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5545. Follow on Twitter: @MRBrownTandD.

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