Father of slain woman pushing for new mental health legislation

Father of slain woman pushing for new mental health legislation

SPOKANE, Wash. - Gary Kennison, the father of Sheena Henderson, who was gunned down at Deaconess Hospital on July 8, said his family is taking things one day at a time, but he's looking at the bigger picture, working to make sure what happened to his daughter doesn't happen to anyone else.

Kennison said July 8, 2014 is a day he won't soon forget. His wife got a news alert that morning saying a shooting had happened at Deaconess.

"Her heart just sank, because we knew where our daughter worked and we knew a little bit of what was going on," he said.

Kennison says in May his daughter's husband had made suicidal threats and they reported it to police. Knowing all this the pair rushed to the hospital.

"We told them our daughter worked on the seventh floor where this all took place and that we needed to know," he recalled.

An ordinary day turned into a nightmare when they were told their daughter Sheena Henderson was shot and killed by her husband Christopher, who then took his own life.

Three weeks later Kennison, his wife and Sheena's two kids are still healing from that day.

"We have our moments where we just breakdown but we are trying to stay strong for the benefit of the kids," he said.

Kennison says he and his wife are in the process of adopting their grandchildren and is thankful to friends and family who have been their to support them and say everything will be okay.

"They post their memories of my daughter and every time I read those I tear up," he said.

Recently Kennison returned to Deaconess to thank his daughter's co-workers for doing what they could to protect his daughter, that he doesn't want them to remember that day but something far better.

"Think about the smiles they shared, the jokes that they played on each other and remember her with that beautiful smile," he said.

While he's trying to keep things together with his family now, he's already looking to the future, trying to get legislation passed to help prevent what happened to his daughter from happening again.

"It's a start and I'm not going to stop until I receive success on this," Kennison said.

"Had my son in-law gotten the help at the time that this all started the way he needed he would have never went to this depth," he added.

Kennison says Christopher was seen by a doctor in May after making threats of suicide.

"He was there a total of three hours," Kennison said. "Three hours is not enough time to assess whether a person is truly stable or not."

Kennison will soon be meeting with State Senator Andy Billig and State Representatives Marcus Riccelli and Timm Ormsby.

"I want to establish something that a person can't have the ability just to say or tell somebody 'oh I'm fine," Kennison said.

He adds he wants to see people who make any kind of threat have their guns taken away from their home. They wouldn't get them back until they go through an intense psychiatric evaluation.

Kennison stresses this is not about guns but mental health.

"I don't want this to be about guns," Kennison said. "Because a gun sitting on a table doesn't do anything. This is about people and their mental health and not being able to get that help."

He says he is focused and will not stop until he succeeds and says he knows his daughter is looking over him and proud of what her dad is doing.

"I know she is looking down upon me," Kennison said. "I know she has a smile from ear to ear because she only wanted to help people."

An account has been set up in Sheena's name at Wells Fargo Bank. The funds will go to help Sheena's two kids. Kennison says that is the only place people can donate.