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Mental health patient shot dead by South Carolina probation agent


By Harriet McLeod

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - A patient brought to a mental health facility in South Carolina by a state agent on Monday morning was shot dead after the patient became loud and argumentative, the state mental health department said in a statement.

While the patient was being seen by a psychiatrist at the mental health center in the town of Chesterfield, the agent with the state's Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services was seated outside the office door, the department said.

The clinic, Tri-County Community Mental Health Center, is operated by the South Carolina Department of Mental Health and treats adults and children in three South Carolina upstate counties.

Staff members at the clinic said they heard the patient become loud and argumentative and the agent went into the office, according to the department. The department did not explain how the argument led to the shooting.

Following procedure, the staff locked themselves and other patients behind office doors before several gunshots were heard, the department said.

The patient was killed, said Tracy LaPointe, spokesperson for the Department of Mental Health. The patient's identity was not immediately available.

The psychiatrist reported that he was physically assaulted by the patient but was not seriously injured, LaPointe said. No other staff or patients were injured, she said.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is investigating the shooting, spokesman Thom Berry said.

(Editing by Ken Wills)