Eleven years ago, Sean Fitzpatrick was a high school junior in Spokane, Washington.
He had developed paranoid schizophrenia and was hearing voices—but he didn’t tell anyone.
One morning, Sean went to school with a gun and a plan: barricade himself in a classroom, pretend he had hostages, and force police to kill him.
Sean’s plan didn’t work—but at the end of the standoff he was shot in the face. He still has difficulty speaking.
John Gately of the Spokane Police Department was the officer assigned to negotiate with Sean.
They recently sat down at StoryCorps to remember that day in 2003. Sean now works to educate law enforcement on handling encounters with people in the midst of a mental health crisis.
Originally aired June 12, 2015, on NPR’s Morning Edition.