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Madison police arrest mentally ill man who bought assault rifle online

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A police squad car
A police squad car

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Madison Police said a 20-year-old man with a history of mental illness bought an assault rifle online, and was planning to use it to kill two people.

The man was booked Thursday into the Dane County Jail on a possible charge of attempted homicide.

Police spokesman Joel DeSpain said the suspect knew one of the intended victims, and he was familiar with the other one – but police were able to stop man from committing an act of violence.

Police said the man was going to use an AK-47 assault rifle to kill a 54-year-old woman and a 21-year-old man.

The suspect’s mother told the Wisconsin State Journal that he recently admitted himself to the UW Hospital’s psychiatric unit. She said her son is disturbed, needs help, and is trying to get it.

The arrest comes during a time when state and federal lawmakers are considering gun control measures that include a ban on assault weapons, standard background checks for all gun buyers, and provisions that involve the mentally ill. 

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