Cabell County case involves guns, mental illness

An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Should a man with a long history of mental health issues have 54 guns in his house?

Most reasonable people would say no, but that appears to have been the case with 62-year-old Rodney Bruce Black of Barboursville.

Black has been indicted on two counts of murder in the Jan. 25 shooting deaths of Garrick Hopkins, 60, and his brother Carl Hopkins Jr., 61, of Oak Hill, W.Va. They were attempting to open a shed on the adjacent property, which Garrick Hopkins had just purchased, when shots rang out from a bedroom window.

Black is charged with firing the fatal gunshots without warning with a .243-caliber rifle. Neighbors had described Black as reclusive, but his public defender went a step further during a recent hearing and revealed the defendant had a history of mental health problems going back 30 years.

Circuit Judge Paul T. Farrell ordered Black to a state mental hospital for evaluation and treatment. But the case also raises many questions about whether the defendant’s possession of weapons ever came up in his past brushes with mental health care.

So far, investigators have said little about how Black came to have the 37 long guns and 17 handguns found in his home…

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