SEMMES, Ala. (WALA)-- The family of Bernie “Wade” Johnson, the man shot and killed after threatening a deputy with a hammer on Thursday, gathered on Sunday to place balloons for him at the Semmes Walmart where he died.

The day of the shooting Mobile County deputies were responding to a theft reported at the Walmart where they confronted Johnson in the parking lot.

They say he refused to drop a hammer he was holding and continued making threats even after being tased. 

Johnson’s family says he suffered from mental illness including paranoid schizophrenia.

They believe he was going through one of his episodes the day he died. 

They say he would steal so he could be arrested and placed in jail, a place where they say he felt safe.

“Before he got sick he was… he wanted to make everybody laugh, he wanted to make everybody happy around him.”

His family says they tried getting the father of three help many times, but he refused.

Now they say they will fight for people like him, advocating to get adults the mental help they need so other families don’t have to experience the same pain.

 

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