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Family and friends of Florida school intruder suspect killed by police call for more mental health awareness

Family and friends of Florida school intruder suspect killed by police call for more mental health awareness
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People close to Romen Phelps gathered outside of Dreyfoos School of the Arts on Saturday to honor honor his memory and help remove the stigma of mental illness. Family of 33-year-old Romen Phelps say mental health issues played a direct role in what happened on May 13 at Dreyfoos School of the Arts. Never miss anything: Sign up for personalized newsletters and alerts from WPBF 25 News Investigators say Phelps crashed through the front gates of the school, nearly hitting a staff member before getting into a struggle with a responding officer before that officer shot and killed him.Police say the officer had no choice because Phelps was endangering everyone at the school and WPBF 25 News heard from students who say they were in fear for their lives when this happened. On Saturday, family and friends gathered for musical performance, guest speakers and conversations about mental health issues and resources available to people with mental health issues. “It’s letting me along with so many other people know that Romen has not been forgotten and we are still looking for justice for Romen,” said Robbin Jackman, Phelps’ mother.”I appreciate that people still think about him because I do every day , it’s just nice to know he’s still thought of,” said Joseph Phelps II, Phelps’ older brother. “Just don’t judge a book by its cover and know that everybody has a story and everybody is going through something and things should be dealt with in a manner that takes thought.”Every situation doesn’t have to be fatal and some things can be handled differently sometimes.”The West Palm Beach Police Department has no further comment regarding the incident. WPBF 25 News has reached out to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which is leading the investigation into what happened, but no response has been received at this time.”That’s why we’re all gathering here today is to understand a little bit more and seek justice for the events that happened,” said Krista Kachich, Phelps’ friend, during Saturday’s event.Phelps, who was 33 years old , graduated from Dreyfoos School of the Arts in 2007. “Everybody out here either knew Romen directly or knew of Romen and he was a well-respected, kind, contributing member of the community and so for that we just want to keep that legacy alive ,” her id Lynn McKeel, the CEO of Remember Romen Non-Profit, which organized the event. “I think it’s important for us to keep this conversation ongoing,” said Deborah Ferrer, founding member of Remember Romen nonprofit. “As someone who resonates with Romen’s story, I think it’s really about bringing empathy to the forefront and making sure that we understand what the highest form of knowledge is and that’s to be empathetic toward other individuals who might be struggling with something you might not completely understand.””I hope that with all of this that this sheds light on the need for mental health resources and progressive thinking and possible changes that could impact our communities, our friends and our families moving forward,” Kachich said.”We have to keep ongoing with this moment and this momentum that we have to sustain a conversation around mental health,” Ferrer said.

People close to Romen Phelps gathered outside of Dreyfoos School of the Arts on Saturday to honor honor his memory and help remove the stigma of mental illness.

Family of 33-year-old Romen Phelps say mental health issues played a direct role in what happened on May 13 at Dreyfoos School of the Arts.

Never miss anything: Sign up for personalized newsletters and alerts from WPBF 25 News

Investigators say Phelps crashed through the front gates of the school, nearly hitting a staff member before getting into a struggle with a responding officer before that officer shot and killed him.

Police say the officer had no choice because Phelps was endangering everyone at the school and WPBF 25 News heard from students who say they were in fear for their lives when this happened.

On Saturday, family and friends gathered for musical performance, guest speakers and conversations about mental health issues and resources available to people with mental health issues.

Romen Phelps

Courtesy: Family of Romen Phelps

Romen Phelps

“It’s letting me along with so many other people know that Romen has not been forgotten and we are still looking for justice for Romen,” said Robbin Jackman, Phelps’ mother.

“I appreciate that people still think about him because I do every day, it’s just nice to know he’s still thought of,” said Joseph Phelps II, Phelps’ older brother. “Just don’t judge a book by its cover and know that everybody has a story and everybody is going through something and things should be dealt with in a manner that takes thought.

“Every situation doesn’t have to be fatal and some things can be handled differently sometimes.”

The West Palm Beach Police Department has no further comment regarding the incident. WPBF 25 News has reached out to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which is leading the investigation into what happened, but no response has been received at this time.

“That’s why we’re all gathering here today is to understand a little bit more and seek justice for the events that happened,” said Krista Kachich, Phelps’ friend, during Saturday’s event.

Phelps, who was 33 years old, graduated from Dreyfoos School of the Arts in 2007.

“Everybody out here either knew Romen directly or knew of Romen and he was a well-respected, kind, contributing member of the community and so for that we just want to keep that legacy alive,” said Lynn McKeel, the CEO of Remember Rome Non-Profitwhich organized the event.

“I think it’s important for us to keep this conversation ongoing,” said Deborah Ferrer, founding member of Remember Romen nonprofit. “As someone who resonates with Romen’s story, I think it’s really about bringing empathy to the forefront and making sure that we understand what the highest form of knowledge is and that’s to be empathetic toward other individuals who might be struggling with something you might not completely understand.”

“I hope that with all of this that this sheds light on the need for mental health resources and progressive thinking and possible changes that could impact our communities, our friends and our families moving forward,” Kachich said.

“We have to keep ongoing with this moment and this momentum that we have to sustain a conversation around mental health,” Ferrer said.

Organizers have held similar events like this before and they said they will continue to hold these events moving forward.

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