Local News

Friday, Sep 06 2013 01:18 PM

Prosecutors won't file charges against suicidal man

By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

Prosecutors will not file charges against an elderly man who brought a gun into a Bakersfield funeral home Tuesday and threatened to kill himself.

Supervising Deputy District Attorney Melissa Allen said 83-year-old Kenneth West won't face criminal charges because he never threatened or pointed a gun at anyone at Basham Funeral Care. He said he was only there to kill himself.

"Based on the reports and statements from witnesses, I don't think a crime occurred," Allen said.

She said West was no longer in custody.

Funeral director Kent Smith said earlier this week that West entered his office and -- showing Smith the butt of a gun -- told Smith he was going to kill himself there to make his death as little of a burden as possible. West is battling terminal illness and had made funeral arrangements with Smith the week before.

Smith could not be reached for comment Friday.

Smith said he stalled West, escorted him toward the front of the building and was able to get another employee to call for help. He then took West into an arrangement office to delay him until authorities arrived.

Kern County sheriff's deputies called and told Smith to walk West outside. West went with him but refused to give Smith the gun.

They walked outside, but when West saw deputies with guns drawn he turned around and went back inside the funeral home. Smith said West sat on a couch and pulled the pistol out of his briefcase.

West tried to cock the pistol and the magazine fell out. Smith then grabbed the gun from him, Smith said.

Smith threw the gun away and deputies entered and arrested West.

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