Patrick West (Photo courtesy Amanda Rossi)

Patrick West (Photo courtesy Amanda Rossi)

Widow sought help for husband’s bipolar disorder before standoff

  • Thu May 16th, 2019 9:40am
  • News

Patrick West was not suicidal, his widow, Amanda Rossi, said.

“He has bipolar, and he was in a down … sad part of it,” Rossi said.

On April 16, Montesano police arrived at West and Rossi’s home on Academy Street in Montesano shortly after 2 p.m. Within an hour, it was a full-fledged standoff situation.

West was shot by law enforcement twice — in the back and in the arm, County Coroner Robert Kegel said — at his home. He died less than 24 hours later at a hospital in Aberdeen. His family and friends are looking for answers.

For about two weeks before, West had been experiencing depression symptoms of bipolar disorder, Rossi said.

That day, Rossi was experiencing symptoms related to her multiple sclerosis, and she didn’t want to leave West alone. The two had been married since 2015 and together for about 5 years.

“I have to start going to infusions to take care of me,” she said. “So, I wanted to make sure he had what he needed for help.” The infusions would leave Rossi “too medicated to do anything to help,” she said.

People with bipolar disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, “experience periods of unusually intense emotion, changes in sleep patterns and activity levels, and unusual behaviors,” symptoms Rossi had seen in West.

She spoke with a nurse at West’s psychiatrist’s office for about an hour that morning. The doctor was not available, Rossi said, and she was told to call a service in Shelton, which directed her to Columbia Wellness’ Crisis Services in Hoquiam. They said they would send two workers out to check on West, Rossi said.

Two crisis care workers came to the house to speak with West. But he refused to talk, telling the workers to get off the property, Rossi said.

Rossi said the crisis workers could not leave without “assessing the situation” and they notified the Montesano Police Department.

When reached by phone last week, David McClay, CEO of Columbia Wellness, said due to federal privacy rules, he could not comment on individual cases. But he did confirm that Columbia Wellness offers Mobile Crisis Team services. The teams perform “Safety Evaluations: Assess to determine safety and then make a plan on how to best support the individual,” according to a Columbia Wellness flier.

About 2:10 p.m., according to an April 17 release from the Montesano Police Department, the first officer arrived at the house. Shortly after, a second officer arrived to assist, Rossi said.

Officers believed West was suicidal and “was experiencing psychosis and hallucinations” and hearing voices, according to a release from the Montesano Police Department.

Travis Roberts had known West since they were 4 years old. He wanted to help his friend.

“I’d seen him act a little bit strange with his movement, the way he would move around, but I never heard him say anything that indicated he was having hallucinations, ever,” Roberts said with emphasis on the last word.

In January 2018, Roberts said, he, another friend and Rossi confronted West during a similar situation that ended up at a hospital emergency room.

“We did take him to the ER in an intervention,” Roberts said. “And we had planned an intervention for later on that evening (April 16).”

Family and friends were told to wait about a block away while officers worked, Rossi said.

At this time, officers were working with the understanding that West was alone in the house, Montesano Police Chief Brett Vance said.

“We told (the officers) that we could diffuse the situation,” Roberts said. “But when we got here, they wouldn’t let us in. They wouldn’t let us talk to Pat. They just said, ‘Text Pat.’ ”

When reached by phone last week, Vance said that he would not comment further on an ongoing investigation.

With police at the house, a family member was sent to pick up West’s 9-year-old daughter, who would have been on a bus to the home soon.

Twice between 2 and 3 p.m, the police department’s release state, West came out of the house, once holding a sword in each hand and once holding a sword and “what appeared to be a ‘Molotov cocktail.’ ”

The first time he confronted police, West struck a fence with a sword directly in front of where officers were standing, then he retreated back to the basement, the release said.

Rossi said the “swords” are just pieces of metal, about 2 to 3 feet long that West, a mechanic, kept in his shop. The entrance to his shop is boarded up, covering three bullet holes in the house.

Later, officers believed somebody inside the house was aiming a laser at them. That’s when they called in the Aberdeen Regional Crisis Response Unit. The CRU, dressed in tactical gear, arrived about 3 p.m. in a military style vehicle.

The family had doctor-prescribed medications in the house. Rossi said West used marijuana and had admitted to her that he had tried methamphetamine, but that he hadn’t done any for a year.

“At one point, I did get him on the phone,” Rossi said. “And it sounded like he had probably taken anxiety medication similar to Valium. He sounded like he was in a downward spiral. He was slurring and talking really slow. The first thing he said to me was, ‘I’m really in a predicament.’

“Yeah, you are. You need to come outside,” Rossi had told him. “He said. ‘I’m not going to talk to anybody.’ And then the phone died … and that was it.”

Around 6:30 p.m., four and one-half hours after the first officers arrived, police tried to insert a robotic camera into the residence, the Montesano Police say West appeared again holding a large sword.

Two CRU officers fired at West, one with live ammunition, the other using “less-lethal ammunition,” Chief Vance said the week of the shooting.

“There was a short volley of two to three shots, then a long volley of five to six shots,” Roberts said.

The Region-3 Critical Incident Investigation Team — which is made up of detectives from Thurston, Mason and Lewis county sheriff’s offices — is investigating the shooting. The investigation could take several weeks, Vance said.

The County Coroner’s Office said a full autopsy report of West’s death is awaiting toxicology results.

Neither officer who fired shots has been identified. A Hoquiam Police Department officer who is a member of the CRU with more than 10 years of service has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard during a shooting investigation. The officer had three years of experience as a CRU team member.