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Last week, when Justin White saw his brother for the last time, he gave him a cigarette. To him, his brother seems a bit “outdated”, but that’s not unusual.
“He always looked like something was wrong,” he said.
A week later, the brother he called “Bobby” died. Robert Taylor White, 32, was shot and killed by police outside Walnut Park Elementary School in Gadsden on Thursday morning. Police said White attempted to enter vehicles and the school building in the moments before his death.
Etowah County Sheriff Jonathan Horton said a school resource officer who also works for Rainbow City police responded to the situation and sought help from other law enforcement. A physical confrontation ensued and the man was shot dead, police said. The resource officer suffered minor injuries, authorities said.
Justin said his brother suffered from depression and other mental health issues.
“He has some serious mental problems,” he said.
Justin, who is one year and nine days younger than his brother, said he learned about it on the news. He called friends to ask for more information and found out that it was his brother who had been shot by the police.
“He told me my brother was screwed there,” he said. “He just walks to school like that.”
Justin says he doesn’t believe Robert Taylor White was trying to hurt the child.
“He’s not a psychopath trying to hurt a child,” the older brother said. “He’s just a mess. He’s got problems. But he’s not going to hurt any kids.
White said he believed his brother was involved in what he called a “police suicide.”
“I think he tried to get himself killed,” he said.
Justin said Bobby grew up in Gadsden and even attended Walnut Park Elementary as a child. The two never had a close relationship.
“He’s been depressed and I know he’s suicidal,” he said. “But he would never hurt anyone.”
Justin said his brother spent eight years doing trash in North Carolina before moving back to Gadsden. Justin believes his brother never got the mental health help he needed.
“Not really,” he said. “But I think he’s doing fine.”
Still, Justin said yes: he was shocked when he found out his brother was involved in the incident when he was in elementary school.
“But at the same time, no, because he’s a grumpy guy,” he said.
Now, without his brother, Justin White feels numb.
“I’ve lost a lot of people over the past few years,” he said. “I’m not in good health myself.”
Justin said what happened to his brother was a tragedy. His mother sat in the living room listening to him speak to CBS 42. Justin said she was not doing well. He couldn’t believe what happened.
“She’s just a patient and she’s in the wrong place,” Justin said.