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Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Schizophrenic who refused to take medication
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: April 15, 1999
Date of birth: 1928
Victims profile: Donald Thomas, 62 (security guard) and Patricia Frengs, 55
Method of murder: Shooting (.22-caliber pistol)
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Status: Died after a gun battle with police officers the same day

3 Are Killed And 5 Hurt In Shootout In Utah City

By James Brooke - The New York Times

April 16, 1999

A gunman entered a genealogical library today at Temple Square, the heart of the Mormon Church, killed two people, wounded five more and died after a gun battle with police officers.

Police Chief Ruben Ortega said tonight that the man, Sergei S. Babarin, 70, lived here and had a criminal record.

Mayor Deedee Corradini said Mr. Babarin, who used a .22-caliber handgun, had schizophrenia and had not been taking his medicine.

The police said Mr. Babarin was arrested four years ago after a fight in a church-owned business here. At the time he was carrying a .22-caliber pistol, but he was never charged with a weapons offense.

After the shooting, the police evacuated much of downtown.

With the city serving as host of an annual genealogical conference this week, 2,700 people filled the five-story building, the world's largest genealogical library, at 10:30 this morning, when the gray-bearded gunman walked in.

He walked up to a woman sitting at the front desk and shot her in the head, witnesses told The Deseret News, this city's church-owned newspaper. Firing and reloading from a handgun, he shot two more women -- one in the head and one in the shoulder. Another man was also wounded.

A 62-year-old security guard, Donald Thomas, and an unidentified female library patron were killed in the attack, Chief Ortega said.

The police identified the woman wounded in the shoulder as 45-year-old Chris Webb, and the two others wounded as 80-year-old Nellie Leighton and 71-year-old Theda Weston. The fourth victim, a man, was unidentified.

''He was coming from the lunch room, popping his little gun,'' Adair Harding, a visitor from Provo, told the newspaper. ''He just had his hand out. It wasn't real loud.''

Ginger Franz, a visitor from Sandy, said: ''It was after about four or five of those that somebody yelled out, 'Get under the table.' A man's voice then told us to pull the chairs down over us.''

Jaqueline Nelson, a professional genealogical researcher from the area, said, ''There were at least 10 pop, pop, pops, then a man shouted to get down.''

In the chaos, 17 panicked library patrons barricaded themselves for two hours on the library's second floor. The gun battle also trapped a group of 95 fourth-grade students on a field trip. The students were outside the library and their teachers called the police and their principal on a cellular telephone, and the group escaped without harm.

The shooting continued for as long as an hour after the first police officers arrived, the police said. The gunman fired from the building while a police SWAT unit shot at him from outside.

In the exchange of shots, a SWAT unit officer suffered a minor gunfire wound. The police said they shot Mr. Babarin and that he died in an ambulance. The officer was not identified.

Mr. Barbarin, a Russian emigre, was married and had children.

Michael R. Otterson, a church spokesman, said: ''We are saddened by the terrible tragedy which occurred at our Family History Library this morning, in which three people were killed, including an employee of the Church. It is incomprehensible that innocent people, pursuing a peaceful pastime of tracing their family history, could be the victims of such a senseless attack as we have seen today.''

One of Utah's top 10 tourist attractions, the library stands across from Temple Square, site of the Salt Lake Temple and Tabernacle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The library has more than two million rolls of microfilm copies of census and other records from more than 100 countries.

The church collects the records for what it calls the baptism of the dead. Mormons believe that such baptisms give the dead the opportunity to join the church in the afterlife.


Crackdown on Schizophrenics Is Urged After Utah Shooting

By James Brooke - The New York Times

April 17, 1999

For the second time in three months, this conservative city grappled today with news that a schizophrenic resident who refused to take medication had walked up to strangers and shot them dead.

Police spokesmen and advocates for the mentally ill called for barring gun sales to people with histories of severe mental illness and for laws mandating that schizophrenics take their medicine.

The gunman, Sergei Babarin, 70, killed two people and wounded five others at a genealogical library before dying in a gun battle with the police on Thursday, the authorities said. His widow and son said today that he had refused to take his medication for schizophrenia since December.

Only three months ago, on Jan. 13, De-Kieu Duy, a woman who also had a history of schizophrenia, entered an office complex three blocks away from Thursday's killings at Temple Square, the heart of the Mormon Church, and shot to death an AT&T employee, the police say.

The killings are only the latest involving schizophrenics who refuse to take their medicine. These cases, the police say, include a man who pushed a young woman in front of a subway train in New York in January, a man who stabbed to death his pregnant fiancee last June at their home in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., and a Montana man who killed two police officers at the United States Capitol last summer.

The Treatment Advocacy Center, which seeks mandatory medication laws, says Americans with untreated severe mental illnesses commit nearly 1,000 homicides a year.

''People who are having severe mental illness problems should be prevented from buying a weapon,'' Lieut. Phil Kirk, a police spokesman here, said, noting that Mr. Barbarin and Ms. Duy had previously been arrested for misdemeanor offenses involving weapons. Referring to a Federal law requiring background checks for felonies before guns may be sold, he said, ''The Brady bill should be extended to misdemeanors involving weapons offenses.''

In 1995, Mr. Babarin was arrested here after he punched a 73-year-old man in a department store restroom, then tried to bite him on the face, the police said. At the time, he was carrying a loaded .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of carrying a concealed weapon, and the police carried out a court order to destroy his gun. Today, Lieutenant Kirk said the police were trying to learn how Mr. Barbarin got a new weapon.

With surveys indicating that two-thirds of Utah adults own firearms, mental health advocates say more money should be spent on insuring that schizophrenics take their medicine, prescription drugs that often allow them to lead normal lives.

''All I am hearing today is how we need to keep guns away from the mentally ill,'' said Vickie Cottrell, executive director of the Utah chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, a nonprofit advocacy group. ''Well, how about getting the medication to the mentally ill?''

In Utah, medication is only mandatory if mentally ill people pose an immediate danger to themselves or to others. Mrs. Cottrell, whose daughter has brought her schizophrenia under control with medication, said: ''I know of too many families who have tried to get their loved one in a hospital. Too many times, terrible things happen.''

Only last month, the Utah Legislature rejected pleas by mental health advocates to finance a system that would provide medical monitoring of severely mentally ill people who are released from hospitals and prisons.

Mr. Barbarin's son, Alex, said he had asked doctors for help with his father, but was told that state laws limited involuntary commitment to people who posed an imminent danger.

''It's an unreasonable liberty with people who need help,'' he told The Deseret News here. ''You must be more preventive, because one mentally ill person can damage so many lives -- not because he intends to, but because he can't help it.''

Sergei Babarin, a toolmaker who emigrated from Leningrad, Russia, to New York in 1981, had displayed odd behavior after moving here a decade ago, the police said.

Mark Zelig of the Salt Lake Police said Mr. Babarin had thought his son was a spy for the Central Intelligence Agency and last year attacked a bicyclist by sticking an umbrella in his wheel spokes. Mr. Barbarin was not charged in that incident.

''He would say 'Heil Hitler and I hate America,' '' a neighbor said on Thursday at the the apartment complex for the elderly where he lived. ''He could've been helped mentally, but somebody failed.''


Sergei Babarin

On Thursday, 15/4/99, Sergei Babarin walked into the Mormon Family History Library in Salt Lake City and opened fire. Why?

I doubt even Sergei knew, but I guess I could fill you in on the story a bit and let you figure it out for yourselves.

So, who was Sergei Babarin?

He was a 71 year old Russian immigrant that lived with his wife at St. Mark's Tower, a home for the elderly at 650 S. 300 East. His family claim was schizophrenic. They say he was diagnosed in New York during the late 80's, but Utah officials claim that he only suffered a mild case of depression.

Either way, Sergei was on a pretty strong prescription that seemed to make him 'normal'. But the problem was that, according to Sergei's wife of 49 years (their 50th anniversary was in November), Zoya Mikhailovna Babarin, Sergei had stopped taking his medication a few weeks earlier. the reason why was that he thought it was poison.

But that alone couldn't have been enough could it?

At that time you may remember that NATO decided they needed to save the world (and Bill Clinton's political career) by attacking Kosovo. According to Sergei's son this led to Sergei reliving his own youth, particularly a bad time he had under attack from the Naziís in Russia. Apparently he especially hated Hitlers boys. So much so that following his assault his wife claimed that, "He was shooting Nazis at that library."

Also in the weeks leading up to Sergei's day in the sun he would accuse everyone around him of being spies. His son, his wife, even people walking past his windows.

Okay, enough of this, what happened at the Library?

Sergei wore his usual getup for a walk into the city (which he took most days), a long coat and baggy pants and a cap pulled low over his eyes. Most people were used to seeing the old man, and most disliked him as he had no manners at all.

And as he also did most days, he headed into the library. But this is where his usual schedule changed. Instead of being rude to the first person he saw, he shot them.

First struck was a woman sitting behind the reception desk a little before 10.30am. Babarin then casually proceeded from the lobby toward the orientation room, randomly shooting as victims fell and others threw themselves under desks for cover.

Babarin then calmly and methodically roamed through the building, even stopping once to reload. Before police had a chance to arrive there were two people dead, security guard Donald Thomas, 62, and Patricia Frengs, 55. There were also quite a few people injured, yet only four of those would require an overnight stay in hospital. Maybe they were the only ones with medical insurance.

But I guess it had to end for Sergei though, and at 10.32am police arrived. One officer was grazed by a bullet from Sergei, and I guess he very quickly learned that whatever you do in the good ol' USofA, you don't fire on police. Ever.

I reckon you can guess what happened to Sergei. Yep, he was fatally wounded by police. Or at least that's what the press were told. Interestingly he was not loaded into an ambulance until 45 minutes after being shot, and was pronounced dead in the ambulance. Can anyone else smell something fishy?

Luckily for the four people seriously wounded, all women, they were able to be taken to area hospitals straight away. One, aged 80, was shot in the face but was expected to fully recover, another aged 45 was in stable condition and a third aged 71 was in critical condition with a head wound. A pregnant woman also fell into a false labor. I guess the excitement was all too much for her.

Interesting bits and quotes

The .22-caliber handgun was concealed in an umbrella prior to the shootings.

An international genealogical convention had attracted heavy traffic to the library.

"I saw one man fall and his legs were flopping up and down like you see on television."

Local press quoted Neighbours as saying that greeted people in the hallway by clicking his heels together and saying "Heil Hitler." Obviously he wanted to fit in with the 'spies.'

"I did not hear him say anything. He didn't call out, no names or anything. He just kept his hand held out pointing at people."

Sergei and Zoya Babarin first settled in New York in 1981 after leaving Russia. Sergei, a toolmaker by trade, worked as a lathe operator.

"He didn't say anything. He just came in and started shooting people. He was an older gentleman."

"He just looked intent on what he was doing. He came to do what he was doing,"

Babarin was arrested after a 1995 fight at a department store in downtown Salt Lake City. He had been carrying a .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol and was charged with assault and carrying a concealed weapon.

In May, 1998, a bicyclist told police that Babarin stuck an umbrella in the bicycle spokes as he rode by and accused him of being a spy. No charges were brought.

The Wacky World of Murder



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