Family says KC Walmart stabbing suspect needs mental health treatment, not jail time

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The family of the man charged with stabbing a Kansas City Walmart employee says he should be in a mental hospital, not behind bars.

Brian Lenoble Jr. faces first-degree domestic assault and armed criminal action for allegedly stabbing the female employee in the neck.

According to court records, a witness told investigators Lenoble allegedly had a knife in his hand when he went behind the automotive department’s checkout counter and stabbed the woman. Lenoble told police he grabbed the knife at the store.

He's now being held in the Jackson County jail on a $150,000 cash bond, but his family said what he really needs is medical help.

Brian Lenoble Jr

"What he did was wrong. I ain’t going to lie," said Lenoble's aunt, Wendy Gifford-Free. "But it shocked all of us because that ain’t who he is."

The 22-year-old's family told FOX4 the troubled young man suffers from bipolar disorder as well as other mental illnesses. They noticed something wasn't right when he was in high school.

"We didn’t really know what was going on with him, and then he started getting in a little trouble, and he just changed," Gifford-Free said. "I don’t even know how to explain it. It’s just night and day."

The disease didn't really manifest until Lenoble was an adult, they said, so the family has no control over his medical care and can't get him help.

“You know when they are an adult you can’t force them to take their meds, and they can’t even talk to you with the HIPPA laws,” Gifford-Free said, "'cause they can't talk to us without his permission. Well, if he isn't capable of giving his permission, what do you do? And then we end up in a situation where we are at."

The family said Lenoble has been hospitalized twice and is okay until he stops taking his medicine.

In June, his family’s roommate, Sonja Hagebock, filed a restraining order against him after Lenoble burned his clothes and punched his dad in the face. And although Lenoble wasn't supposed to come home, he did.

"The reason he is back here is because the psychiatrist at the research place where he was at asked if he could come back here. If not, they were going to have to let him loose," Hagebock said. "First I was scared, but I went on ahead. And he was doing really good for a while, up until probably maybe two, two-and-a-half weeks ago."

Then the Walmart stabbing happened earlier this week. Court records say Lenoble was agitated on Monday at the store on 40 Highway and became enraged when the female cashier wouldn't allow him behind the counter.

Afterward, court documents say he told police, “I tried to kill her and slit her throat, and I would do it again."

"The laws need to be changed so stuff like this doesn’t happen," Gifford-Free said.

The stabbing victim has since been released from the hospital. She has quite a gash on her neck. It hurts, but she said she feels lucky to be alive.

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