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Violent death in Lakewood group home fuels demands for change

A former patient at Western State psychiatric hospital is now accused in the murder of a roommate.

LAKEWOOD, Wash. -- Lakewood's leaders warned this could happen -- a violent assault and death in a group home has a state senator and the mayor of Lakewood calling for an immediate halt to the state placing violent people in those homes. A former patient at Western State psychiatric hospital is now accused in the murder of a roommate.

"Tragic and preventable," said neighbor Patrick Juhasz. "And ultimately somebody has to bury their family member, which is the biggest concern." He lives just down the street from where the violent assault took place in the group home for adults on October 27th.

Police say former hospital patient John Quiorio got upset with Timothy Nitschke over a soda they were sharing and struck him. "When we interviewed the suspect he admitted he used his fist at the time to do that," said police Lt. Chris Lawler. "The suspect has some assaultive past."

And because of that past, Lakewood mayor Don Anderson said Quiorio never should have been placed in a normal group home. He said it is something they have warned about for years. "We've been publicly warning DSHS of this literally for years. It was only a matter of time. It is extremely disappointing because it's avoidable."

State senator Steve O'Ban (R-Lakewood) said now that there's been a death he is calling on the governor and DSHS to put an immediate stop to placing violent people from Western State into the community like this. "It will happen again," said O'Ban. "Of course it will and that's what is so concerning the neighbors of these adult family homes."

"As a parent of two small children and a wife and a job that makes me be out of town quite often makes me nervous about what else could happen."

The governor's office oversees DSHS and issued a statement: "We understand the concerns of the Lakewood community and agree we need more placement options around the state. We've invited legislators to join us in that effort which is challenging, but necessary."

But no action is being taken on the senator's call for a moratorium, at least not yet.

Quiorio is being held without bail and he will have a mental competency court hearing Monday.

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