Friend Of Suspect In Bomb Threat Shares Story Of Illness - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

Friend Of Suspect In Bomb Threat Shares Story Of Illness

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(WLNS) - Many people who saw what happened on Wednesday have their minds made up, that this man is a hardened criminal. But his attorney and close friend paints a different picture.

Gary Peterson is a husband and father of four, with seven grandchildren.

He's a terminally ill man, who his attorney says was certainly not in his normal state of mind Wednesday. Family man, former marine and a friend you could count on.

That's how Burt Burleson describes 63-year-old Gary Peterson, who was taken into police custody following a standoff.

This was after Peterson allegedly threatened to detonate explosives in a medical facility to get his hands on prescription drugs.

"If you knew Gary, this is not Gary. He would not do something like this, would be your first response. And obviously the family is very shocked and very distraught,” said Burt Burleson, attorney for Gary Peterson.

Burt Burleson, Peterson's attorney and close friend says his client faces serious health issues and on Wednesday he was not acting in his right state of mind.

"There was some impulsivity involved; I honestly don't think he knew what he did. And it was based upon the medication that he had been prescribed or un-prescribed. Gary has been diagnosed with terminal emphysema, you know he does not have much time left, quite frankly."

Though the string of events from the robbery at this medical center to the lockdown in Peterson's neighborhood, Burleson says the family asks the public to be understanding.

"In terms of how the neighbors here view the man who put their neighborhood on lockdown, you might expect them to have some sort of resentment but in fact it's been quite the opposite."

“It’s obviously not the family's fault. I've heard he was a very nice man. Pain and illness can really cause you to do some silly things."

"They've been very kind neighbors and I hope that they'll stay my neighbors."

Peterson's attorney says his family wanted the public to know they commend law enforcement for the job they did on Wednesday.

The family wants to thank all the officers who were involved in the response.
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