Friends of Henrico Walgreens standoff suspect say he battled addiction

Friends of Henrico Walgreens standoff suspect say he battled addiction

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Friends and family are speaking out about the man who opened fire in a Henrico drug store leading to an hours-long standoff with police, before turning the gun on himself. Those closest to 44-year-old Gary Michael Haynes said he was a family man, who was struggling after losing his wife and turned to drugs to cope.

An armed man jumping the drug counter at Walgreens, as employees and customers race to get out. Wednesday, police tell us Gary Michael Haynes was the man behind it.

"I'm in shock as we speak now because this is totally out of character," said Anthony Parker.

He knew Haynes to be a man who cared about his two teenage sons.

"In his soul, he was a good father. Smart. Musician," he said, describing Haynes' passion for guitars.

However, there was a dark side. Friends say when his wife died a few years ago, he became addicted to drugs. The need to feed that addiction ultimately causing him to take his own life.

"It was too much for him to take by himself," John Rector said.

"It's a terrible situation, and it's hard to get clean," said Dr. Peter Breslin, who treats patients with these kinds of battles.

"There's such a desire and stronghold on people that it completely controls what they do and what they have to do to get that. Going for a jog is not going to be as dopamine-producing as a shot of heroin let's say. Even eating regularly," Breslin explained.

Initially, he says its starts as a need to have a feeling of euphoria and then grows into a dependence just to get through the day.

"Addiction is a subsection of mental health," Breslin explained.

One of Hayne's closest friends wished he would have been handled before it handled him.

"People need to be more aware. It's an epidemic. He wasn't a bad guy. It was a bad disease," Rector said.

His friends say they don't excuse his actions, they just wish Haynes could have been healed from what they call "demons" that left him helpless.

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