Jeffrey Grossman of Rensselaer, New York, was arrested Thursday by U.S. Secret Service agents after he scaled a White House fence. He was carrying a Pokemon doll and wearing a Pokemon-themed shirt at the time.
“That’s his best friend,” his mother, Cathy Grossman, said of the doll during a Monday phone interview with The Albany Times-Union.
“I was informed that, when he was apprehended, he told security that he had come to talk with the president about his health care program,” she told The Record of Troy, New York.
She said her son was suffering from severe mental illness that didn’t surface until Jeffrey Grossman was in college. He was having trouble getting help for the illness and wanted to know why.
After graduating from high school, her son enrolled at The College of Saint Rose and majored in business. Around the time of his junior year Grossman began showing signs of mental illness. A judge ordered that he be treated and placed on medication.
That got his life back on track and he was able to graduate from college. But he quit taking his medication, thinking he no longer needed it because it was making him feel better, Cathy Grossman, who is a pharmacist, explained.
Since graduation he has had some run-ins with the law, according to Rensselaer Police Sgt. Matthew McCoy.
“Let’s just say we had some odd occurrences here similar to what you saw in Washington,” McCoy said.
“Our police had notified the FBI. He’s been saying things about the White House,” Rensselaer Mayor Dan Dwyer said.
Cathy Grossman thinks her son was trying to get help from President Barack Obama because he was having trouble getting his health insurance accepted so he could obtain treatment for his mental illness.
She said Grossman went to an out-of-state hospital to seek help but was turned away because his health insurance wouldn’t pay for it. When he asked more questions, a staffer at the hospital explained it had to do with how the nation’s health system is set up and he should talk to the president if he wanted it changed.
That was advice that Cathy Grossman thinks her son took literally.
“We have to address our mental health system. It has programs for people under 18 and for our seniors but there is nothing for young adults who can function if they have medication, like my son,” she said.
Despite what happens to her son legally, Cathy Grossman hopes that the incident may bring attention to the plight of young people suffering from mental illness who have no where to turn.
“I want something positive to come from this,” she said. “I want people to know there are mental health issues out there. I’m hoping for the best. And I hope that maybe now he will get some long-term help.”
Jeffery Grossman was last reported to be under observation at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C.
Secret Service spokeswoman Nicole Mainor said Monday that Grossman has not been charged with anything in connection to the incident at the White House.