State’s Safety Net failed man killed in Walmart shooting

Bouquets of flowers mark the spot outside of Walmart where Andy Anderson was shot and killed by a Riverton Police Officer who said Anderson tried to stab him in the chest with a knife. The knife failed to penetrate the officer's protective vest. WyoToday photo by Ernie Over

Wyoming State Legislator Lloyd Larson of Lander said the system failed Andy Anderson when he was shot and killed outside of the Riverton Walmart store:

According to a report in the Casper Star-Tribune, a state lawmaker says the state’s social services failed the Northern Arapaho man killed by police late last month.

At a state Joint Committee on Tribal Relations Committee meeting on Monday, Rep. Lloyd Larsen, R-Lander, said Anderson “Andy” Antelope shouldn’t have been at the Riverton Walmart where he was shot and killed after authorities said Antelope got into an altercation with a police officer. Instead, Antelope should have been in a hospital that day, Larsen said.

In the months before the shooting, Antelope, 58, had been in and out of hospitals, including a Lander hospital and Wyoming State Hospital in Riverton, Larsen said. Instead of being outside Walmart, he said Antelope should have been getting help with his addiction issues.

“We have a problem in Wyoming, and I think that the system really failed us in this instance, and it doesn’t matter that he was a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe,” Larsen said. “Our system in Wyoming for handling those addiction recovery issues and preventing recidivism and helping get the counseling and getting some stable legs under them before they’re back in the community is problematic in our system, and we somehow have got to get that fixed.”

Larsen said Antelope had been involuntarily committed to the state hospital for four months before the shooting. He had been released and found himself at the hospital in Lander for two months. Larsen said the hospital attempted to send Antelope back to the state hospital, but the Evanston hospital wouldn’t take him until he had a psychological evaluation.

When Antelope did receive that evaluation, there was no room at the Evanston hospital or any other private or public facilities in Wyoming to address his addiction issues, Larsen said.

“Mr. Antelope shouldn’t have been there that day,” he said. “He just shouldn’t have been there.”

Larsen said he wanted to share some additional information about the shooting because many in the Fremont County area have been discussing the topic. While he didn’t offer any specific solutions, he said the state’s system for handling those with issues like Antelope’s needs to be fixed.

Another committee member, Rep. Patrick Sweeney, said in cases like Antelope’s money and eligibility to continue to hold a patient run out. He said finding additional money, especially for the Wyoming State Hospital, could help solve the problem.

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