A man accused of shooting and seriously injuring two men at a Tacoma park has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Roger White Sr., 55, was charged with attempted first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree assault following the attack at Blueberry Park on July 21, 2015.
Mental health professionals who evaluated White wrote the court that he might not have fully understood the consequences of his actions at the time, or been able to fully distinguish between right and wrong, due to mental illness.
Superior Court Judge Kathryn Nelson found White not guilty by reason of insanity Friday, which means he’ll be in the custody of the state Department of Social and Health Services at a facility such as Western State Hospital.
“It is not in the best interest of the defendant and others that the defendant is placed in treatment that is less restrictive than detention in a state mental hospital,” Nelson’s order reads.
DSHS is not to discharge White unless the court says differently, according to the order.
White’s attorney, Gary Clower, said DSHS could keep him for life.
“He won’t be released until people think he’s safe to be released,” Clower said. “ I think that this result was the best thing that could happen for the community, not just for Roger.”
Investigators said White was carrying a large knife or machete and a gun as he approached a 29-year-old man sitting in a car near Blueberry Park and shot him in the neck, mouth and shoulders.
The man was there to meet a friend, according to charging papers.
The friend, a 31-year-old, had parked nearby. When he saw the shooting, he ran into the park, and White shot him in the ribs.
Police said they didn’t know why White targeted the men.
White told mental health evaluators that one of the men, whom he did not know, had approached and threatened him. His version of events contradicted that of investigators, who said White approached the victims.
“If you sat down and talked to him, you would really like him,” Clower said of White. “He’s a very nice man and smiles all the time. (Then sometimes) he’ll relay a story about something that probably never happened.”
Like the victims in the case, Clower said, “hopefully some day Roger will be able to get out of the hospital and go back to his family.”