Following Lexington murder, advocates say mental health system is 'broken'

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Advocates argue there are not enough resources in Lexington to help in a mental health crisis situation following a deadly shooting involving a suspect previously deemed "suicidal."

Morgan Johnson is charged with the murder of Christopher Spencer and the rape of another victim days after being admitted to Eastern State Hospital after Lexington police said he was a threat to take his own life. Police and the hospital were unable to say how long he was in the medical facility.

"I think we are at a real crisis here, and it is only going to get worse," says National Alliance on Mental Illness advocacy director Kelly Gunning.

"We've had people like veterans who have had a gun in their mouth who we take to an emergency service provider, and they let them leave," says Gunning, "I'm sure if you talk to police you'll hear the story over and over."

It is the story Lexington police gave when referring to Johnson's case. Gunning is advocating for a better mental health infrastructure for the community.

"The reason things are happening like they are is because we don't have crisis services in Fayette County. We don't have an emergency psychiatric facility "

Gunning says many Lexington officers are adequately trained in crisis intervention, but she believes these patients don't get proper treatment when they arrive at a medical facility.

"We've had people turned away from all of them, which leaves what? Not much -- the street and unfortunately jail," says Gunning.

Gunning is concerned about the existing lack of funding, and she believes further cuts could happen because of Governor Matt Bevin's proposed budget.

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