“He just snapped,” Bethany mother makes plea for mental health after son arrested for burglary, arson

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BETHANY, Okla. – A mother is making a plea for better mental healthcare in the state after her son was arrested, accused of attacking a man and ransacking his family member’s home.

It was Saturday afternoon around 4:30 p.m. when police were called to a home near the corner of N.W. 30th and MacArthur. Police said Andrew Helton kicked in the door to his grandparents’ home.

“It looked like the house had been ransacked and destroyed,” said Lt. Angelo Orefice, with the Bethany Police Department. “A lot of the furniture was broken and turned upside down.”

Officers left when they couldn’t find Helton, but were called back a few hours later when he allegedly went after someone with an ax and a gas can.

“He was afraid for his life,” Lt. Orefice said.

This time, emergency crews arrived to find a lawnmower and barn on fire. According to police, Helton ran home and barricaded himself in his bedroom before later giving up without a fight.

“I would have never expected,” said Andrew’s mother, Barbara Helton. “I mean, he just snapped, totally snapped.”

She said her son is typically gentle and watches out for the underdog, but that he may be suffering from schizophrenia lately.

She said the bad episode began on Thursday. Police were called to help but didn’t detain him.

“If they’d have just done something Thursday night, none of this would have happened,” Barbara said. “I mean it would have just been a thing of taking him in and, I mean, even if they had held him 72 hours this wouldn’t have happened.”

However, Lt. Orefice said they can’t arrest someone unless that person left visible marks on someone they attacked, if they meet certain criteria to be admitted to a mental facility against their will, or the victims are willing to press charges.

Barbara didn’t want to press charges against her son, and is now hoping the state will offer more help for people who are suffering like he is.

“I don’t know what but somebody has to do something,” she said.

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