Family of man involved in Halloween shooting rampage speaks out

Published: Oct. 30, 2016 at 12:06 PM MDT
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The last thing Heather Kopp expected was her son making national news for a half-mile-long assault on downtown Colorado Springs.

Even as Noah Harpham's long battle with bipolar disorder worsened and his family raced to intervene, Kopp never thought he was capable of taking up arms against random people, killing three before dying in a shootout with police last Halloween.

In her first public comments beyond a condolence statement since the shootings, Kopp said she instead feared her son might lose his job and begin the same "downward spiral" as her father, who also was bipolar and who killed himself at age 47.

"I didn't associate mania with violence," said Kopp, a well-known Christian author, in the email exchange with The Gazette. "Noah had never said or done anything that would lead one to think he had a capacity for violence."

It's the very reason the family was unsuccessful in getting him outside help in the days leading up to the shooting. Colorado law mandates that unless a person is an obvious threat to themselves or others or is unable to provide for basic needs, no one can intervene to force them to seek a mental health evaluation or treatment.

Kopp's husband and younger son were flying separate planes to Colorado Springs on Halloween day in desperate hope of getting Harpham to a mental health facility. Cedar Springs had said they would "be happy to see Noah if we could bring him in," she said. The hospital reiterated the law prohibiting them from having Harpham committed without his consent, Kopp said.

Their planes landed in Colorado just hours after the shootings.