Family pleads for awareness about mental health after shooting - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Family pleads for awareness about mental health after shooting

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Steven Harreld (Courtesy Harreld family) Steven Harreld (Courtesy Harreld family)
Harreld family Harreld family
Fayette County Jailer/Reserve Deputy Jeremy Stiefel Fayette County Jailer/Reserve Deputy Jeremy Stiefel
WATERLOO (KWWL) -

The family of a mentally-ill inmate who took a deputy's gun at a hospital in West Union spoke to KWWL today about mental illness issues in jail.

According to authorities, Steven Harreld, 34, was an inmate at the Fayette County Jail when a jailer, who was also a reserve deputy, brought Harreld to Palmer Lutheran Hospital in West Union for medical treatment.

Investigators believe when the jailer, Jeremy Stiefel, removed Harreld's handcuffs, Harreld was able to grab the deputy's gun. 

Reports indicate that on Saturday, August 23rd, Harreld shot and hurt Stiefel inside the hospital before turning the gun on himself.

For the first time, the Harreld family sat down with KWWL's Shelley Russell and talked about what they're calling their new mission: To make sure mental health issues are recognized and treated appropriately in the criminal justice system.

In a statement released to media outlets on Thursday, the family said the following:

"Our family is incredibly grateful for the outpouring of love and support we have received from friends, extended family members, our community, and even strangers, and we want to pay that same love and support forward. 

"We have been in contact with The National Alliance on Mental Illness, local mental health and substance abuse organizations, as well as law enforcement agencies in hopes of strengthening the network of resources for people in our community. 

"Specifically, we hope to raise funds to enhance training and support the establishment of a Mobile Crisis Unit for Northeast Iowa. In situations involving mental health crises, this team of professionals would be available to help people at homes, hospital emergency departments, law enforcement facilities, and other settings throughout the community with crisis intervention, assessment, stabilization services, referrals and follow-up. 

"Donations to this initiative can be made to the Steven Harreld Memorial Fund at the following locations: Community Savings Bank in Edgewood, F & M in Manchester, Farmers Savings Bank in Strawberry Point, and Citizen's State Bank in Strawberry Point.

In addition, today is the National Alliance on Mental Illness's National Day of Action. Please visit www.nami.org and urge your elected officials to pass comprehensive mental health legislation this year.

Help keep the conversation going.

-The Family of Steven Harreld"

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