Man with mental illness linked to disturbance at Wichita convenience store

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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) Employees at a Wichita convenience store fear for their safety after a customer came into the store and shouted racial slurs.

The incident was captured on surveillance.

Sadiqur Rahman works at Sinclair American Eagle gas station. He says he's dealt with the man's rants before, but when it happened last month, it was much worse.

"Are you Isis?" The man can be heard screaming at Rahman. He recorded the audio on his cell phone, and we matched that video to the audio.

"We feel unsafe here," says Rahman. "We feel threatened and the customers feel unsafe here. You know he just shouts racist things. He was just trying to say nonsense things for six or seven minutes and there were customers behind him so I told him, 'can you please pay me, and that way I can serve the other customers?'"

Rahman says that's when things escalated.

"Don't f****** touch it. I have already... See you just snatched this away from me. Take the f****** dollar, take it," shouts the man.

Not long after that incident, the man appears in another surveillance video, this time in Bel Aire where he was stopping traffic and shouting at cars. Eventually, as we would later learn, he was taken to the hospital for treatment, but only after hurting himself.

Rahman and other employees at the gas station are worried about what the man could do next.

"It should not take this long to take some steps because he's roaming around," says Rahman.

A look into mental illness

Factfinder 12 wanted to go deeper and learn more about the man in the video - and his battle with mental illness.

His family agrees he shouldn't be on the streets unless he gets treatment. They worry about others' safety. They also worry police may be forced to use deadly force to stop him.

After watching the video, the man's mother and sister say they're not shocked by his racist rant, but they feel helpless.

"It didn't shock me I felt bad for the employee also," says Donna, the man's mother.

She says her son, Bryce, now in his 20's, has been plagued by mental illness since before he was a teenager. She says he has bipolar 1 disorder and what was captured on camera was a manic episode.

"It breaks my heart. It feels like a death. It feels like I've lost him every time this happens, and I have for a period of time until this phase wears off - he's not the same kid," says Donna.

She says everything in the video is the opposite of what she sees when Bryce is well. She says he's kind and witty - not racist. She called the video heartbreaking and says when Bryce takes his medications, he does get better, but that's part of the problem.

"He thinks he's fine, stops taking his meds and we're back to incidents like this. It happens so much it's amazing to me we can't do something about it," Donna says.

Within hours of the video from the convenience store, police were called when Bryce was found in the middle of the street stopping and yelling at traffic. He eventually got some help, but only after he cut himself.

That's why his family says they are frustrated.

"You feel helplessness. I thought if you see your child drowning you wouldn't hesitate to save him. I do everything I can to help him," Donna stresses.

She says she's tried taking Bryce to get help because she knows he's not going to do it for himself.

"If you liken it to Alzheimer’s, you know they can't make the right decisions," she says.

Sedgwick County's Mental Health and Substance Abuse Coalition is holding a summit Thursday to discuss the future of trying to solve issues surrounding mental health.

Thursday's summit takes place from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Rhatigan Student Center (Santa Fe Trail Room) at Wichita State University.

Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay says he estimates about one quarter of his of his department's calls have a mental health component.

"There is an over reliance on police to deal with mental illness and that's not right," Ramsay says. "There needs to be more resources for families, and our hearts go out to them. In many cases, we are going on calls where we should not."