Judge: Suspected gunman suffered mental illness

Thomas Demetrius Burns

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Court records indicate the suspected gunman in a fatal shooting and hostage standoff at a Charleston restaurant struggled with mental illness.

Legal records show a Circuit Court judge in Charleston County ordered a mental evaluation for Thomas Demetrius Burns when he faced drug charges in 2010. The judge wrote that Burns “has schizophrenia and repeatedly accuses defense counsel of working against him.”

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Police have identified 53-year-old Burns as the suspected gunman in the deadly shooting Thursday of Shane Whiddon, the executive chef at Virginia’s restaurant in downtown Charleston. Authorities say Burns then took a hostage and was shot by police.

Charleston County sheriff’s spokesman Eric Watson said Burns remained hospitalized Friday with deputies guarding him. He said Burns has not been formally charged and his condition was not known.

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