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Mental evaluation ordered for alleged Brown VA Medical Center gunman

Bernard Harvey Jr., 40, who was arrested for firing a rifle at the VA hospital, was previously diagnosed with schizophrenia and delusional thinking, court files show.

People stand outside the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, 820 S. Damen Ave., after a person with a weapon was arrested following reports of shots fired at the hospital Aug. 12, 2019.
A crowd gathers outside the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in August, after an Indianapolis man allegedly fired shots outside the hospital and into a entrance door.
Sam Charles/Sun-Times

An Indianapolis man facing a federal weapon charge for allegedly firing a rifle on the grounds of the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center over the summer will be sent to a federal mental health facility.

Following a competency hearing last week, U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox found Bernard Harvey Jr. unfit for trial and ordered him to spend up to four months at the federal facility.

After his time at the mental health facility, Cox said she will determine if “there is a substantial probability that in the foreseeable future, [Harvey] will attain the capacity to permit the trial or further proceedings to proceed.”

Harvey was arrested in August after staff at the hospital reported gunshots fired near the Taylor Street entrance to the building. Security officers spotted Harvey allegedly carrying a carbine rifle, with the muzzle pointed downward, near the facility. Investigators found shell casings matching Harvey’s rifle on the ground near the entrance of the hospital and one casing inside the Taylor Street entryway, as well as bullet holes in the ceiling and floor.

Harvey’s public defender said the conversations he had with Harvey led him to believe that Harvey suffered from “delusional thinking patterns.” Medical records show Harvey had been previously diagnosed with delusional thinking and schizophrenia, and had taken medication for the disorders, his lawyer reported in an August court filing.

The rifle Harvey was allegedly carrying when he was arrested had been reported stolen in Indianapolis. Harvey, who has multiple prior felony convictions, is charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, and could face a sentence of up to 10 years if convicted.

Federal Bureau of Prisons records indicate Harvey has been held at the downtown Metropolitan Correctional Center since his arrest.