Just days after a tense and violent chase of former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner ended with a blaze of fire in the mountains, Orange County, CA, experienced another terrible tragedy in the killing of 4 people in and around Tustin on February 19th.
Beginning at 4:45pm on Tuesday, February 19th, 20-year-old Ali Syed killed a woman in the home he
shared with his parents, killed two drivers during carjackings, injured two others and shot up cars on
a busy freeway interchange before committing suicide as police closed in, authorities said. Mr. Syed’s
actions left fear and confusion throughout both law enforcement and regular citizens in the northern
part of Orange County, Sovereign Health’s own community. To date, authorities have been unable to
determine a motive for Mr. Syed’s actions or a connection between Mr. Syed and the victims, which has
left questions about his mental state and other circumstances open for interpretations.
As with other recent tragedies that we have experienced, we certainly cannot claim to have the
exclusive answer or event behind the cause of this shooting. However, we feel comfortable saying
that such an act of random destruction must have some source in a perturbed mental state. While
responding adversely to pain and suffering is not uncommon in even the average person, such a terrible
act as this shooting is clearly an inappropriate means of coping in our society. The gravity of this
shooting, the apparent randomness of those killed, and Mr. Syed’s suicide all lead us to the conclusion
that something must have been wrong with his mental state.
Though we, as mental health professionals, certainly do not advocate diagnosing people whose history
and life events we do not know, this case demonstrates to us, as have the cases of Christopher Dorner,
Sandyhook and countless others of recent history, that we as a community need to do more for those
who have, or many have a mental illness. These recent events have hopefully shown us as a nation
that mental illness is not limited to a small minority of individuals in psychiatric hospitals, but can affect
people we know, people in our very own communities. Often times we may not even realize that
someone has a mental illness or is suffering, but we must always be alert. We hope that we as a nation
can learn from these events and keep a more watchful eye on our friends and family to make sure that
we can find them help if they need it.