Family, friends of suspected Columbus bank robber speak about his mental state

Family, friends of suspected Columbus bank robber speak about his mental state

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The family of Victor Butler, the man suspected of robbing a Columbus Bank on Monday, is weighing in on what may have led to his arrest.

He pleaded "not guilty" during his preliminary hearing Wednesday afternoon.

Just hours after his hearing, his mother and one of his church leaders spoke with News Leader 9's Irisha Jones.

Butler's family says he is suffering from a mental illness. One of Butler's church leaders believes if he would have gotten the help he needed earlier, he may not be a armed robbery suspect and in jail.

Those who know Butler says he suffers from schizophrenia, taking several medications at a time. Church leaders at Faithful Missionary Baptist Church in Phenix City asked him more than once to seek help.

"I truly believe we could have done some more if possible to get him the help and pushed a little harder and we would not be in this situation," said Ernest Snead of Faithful Missionary Baptist Church. "My prayer is that many other people like him before it gets this far will get the necessary help they need."

Snead spoke with Butler after he was suspected of robbing a SunTrust Bank on Monday.

"He did not appear or seem to be in his right frame of mind at that time," said Snead.

Butler was arrested at his home on Booker Street on Tuesday by Columbus Police without incident.

"I encouraged Victor to turn himself in and let the court process take its course. I made him aware that here at Columbus jail, they do have facilities in place for veterans," said Snead.

Family members say Butler has suffered from mental illness for several years after he retired from the Marines. He is also a Vietnam veteran. His mother believes those issues may have led to Monday's incident.

"I was always concerned about him because he was the youngest," said Butler's mother Mary.

Mary found out why her son was in jail Tuesday night and last saw her son Sunday after he was dropped at home after church. Butler had turned 59 years old the day of the crime.

"I didn't think nothing like this will come up. But I knew he was capable of doing things that he shouldn't be doing. But I just ask God to watch over him for me," said Mary.

While Butler sits in jail, his family, including his 90-year old mother is hoping he can get some help behind bars. She says she will visit him in jail as long as she is able.

Snead says he will work to find assistance for Butler while he is incarcerated. His family says while his mental issues does not necessarily excuse his actions, they are hoping he can really get the treatment his needs.

Butler is being held on no bond.

Family members say he has only been out of prison for six months for robbing another bank several years ago. He spent nine years in jail for that crime.

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