The man arrested Thursday after revealing a gun in the Atascadero State Hospital parking lot allegedly told a hospital employee that he would begin shooting if the mental hospital didn’t admit him, according to the facility’s employee union for law enforcement.
“He said something along the lines of, ‘I want to get admitted, and I’m prepared to pop off some shots here in order to get admitted,’” said Ryan Navarre, legal counsel for the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association.
The incident occurred at about 2 p.m. Wednesday when a hospital employee asked the man to stop smoking on the tobacco-free campus, according to Ralph Montano, a spokesman for the Department of State Hospitals. No one was injured.
The man, identified on the San Luis Obispo County Jail website as Seth Fredrick Hamilton, 36, allegedly had an unloaded 12-gauge shotgun with ammunition with him in his car, according to an email to staff from management at another state hospital.
“So this was a guy who actually made a threat to fire his weapon, not that he just had a gun in his vehicle,” Navarre added, saying he received confirmation of the incident from several hospital employees.
ASH’s Department of Police Services arrested Hamilton and took him to County Jail, where he was booked on suspicion of bringing a firearm onto prison grounds, threatening crime with intent to terrorize, and brandishing a firearm.
ASH, licensed for 1,275 patients, is one of five state hospitals that treat mentally ill violent offenders. The goal is to stabilize them through medication, therapy and daily programs so offenders can return to trial or prison within an average of six months. It’s not open to the public for mental health treatment.
“There’s often confusion about what ASH is,” Navarre said. “Of course you can’t get admitted there for mental treatment off the street.”
The California Statewide Law Enforcement Association represents nearly 7,000 law enforcement, public safety and consumer protection professionals who work for the State of California, including hospital police officers, according to the association.
Hamilton remained in jail Friday in lieu of $50,000 bail, according to the jail website.