Police: Veteran tossed explosives at cops before stabbing officer

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A man faces 11 counts of attempted murder after throwing explosives and stabbing a Memphis police officer Tuesday night.

Officers were called to a home after Christopher Roby's mother said he was acting erratically.

Officers said Roby ran away from them when they arrived and started throwing what they initially believed to be fireworks at them. He then took out a knife and charged at one of the officers.

At that time, officers tried to use a taser to subdue Roby, but it had no effect. While attempting to detain Roby, a 39-year-old Crisis Intervention Training officer was stabbed twice in the upper torso.

That officer is expected to be OK. Police said the officer was in good spirits and was talking on Wednesday.

After investigating, MPD's bomb unit discovered four explosives--pipe bombs and a mouse trap rigged with a shotgun shell--in the front yard.

Bomb unit officers also found more pipe bombs in Roby's home and discovered that one large explosive device was thrown at the officers--it failed to explode because it did not land correctly on the ground.

Officers said they were in fear for their lives as they saw the explosives thrown at them.

Officers said Roby is a Marine Corps veteran who is diagnosed as a schizophrenic. Roby served three back-to-back tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He also has a history of violence.  Roby faced aggravated assault charges for allegedly shooting a family member two years ago.

Specialists say proper treatment is critical, and often veterans do not get continued mental health support.

"The consistency is what is critical," said Leslie Lindsey-Rich with The Transformation Center. "The support that says let's take your meds. Do what we need to do if we see an increase in symptometry, let's get you where you need to be."

Roby is now charged with 11 counts of attempted first-degree murder.

He was taken to the hospital for evaluation following Tuesday's incident and then booked at the Shelby County Jail.

"I'm not surprised to hear," neighbor David Fair said. "He's got issues. He's got issues."

Fair only met Roby a few months ago, but even after a few conversations, what unfolded two doors down came as no surprise.

"Last night, things just did not go the way that we would like to have gone, you know?" CIT coordinator Lieutenant Colonel Vincent Beasley said Wednesday. "We are grateful that the officer was not injured any more than he was."

For Lt. Col. Beasley, Tuesday night highlighted the need for these specially trained officers.

In 2016 CIT officers responded to 18,435 calls, and in 2017 that number jumped 15 percent with 21,311 calls. Those numbers are a sign the program is working but also show the impact of the war.

"I think that numbers are going to go up," Lt. Col. Beasley said. "I think that as long as we are at war the numbers will go up with people dealing with crisis."

All the officers wore body cameras during the incident. That footage will be reviewed to see if changes to training or the handling of the situation can be made.

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