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Friends of man shot dead by police at Dreyfoos Schools of Arts say he needed psychiatric help

An incident on Friday afternoon at Dreyfoos School of the Arts culminated in the death of Romen Phelps by an off-duty officer. After crashing into the schools security gate at the back of the building, Phelps left his vehicle and was shot just a few moments later in the school theater.

Friends of Phelps say that he was mentally ill, was not armed and not a threat to anyone, WPTV reports.

Skleyr Meany, who was with Phelps for a few hours the day before the incident, told WPTV, “He was a mentally disturbed individual. He just wanted help, he sought help and it wasn’t given to him.”

Mike Jachles, a spokesman for the West Palm Beach PD, said that Phelps was acting violent and erratic, resisting attempts to halt him.

According to Jachles, Phelps had “violently attacked” the off-duty officer, who then fired one round, killing Phelps.

According to Meany during their visit Phelps grew more unstable.

”As the day went on, it became a more extreme departure. By the time he came inside, he couldn’t really speak much. He was sitting on the back of this couch right here, tapping his foot, just breathing really heavy.”

Eventually the police and paramedics were called to take Phelps to the hospital. He was, however, released within just a few hours, to Meany’s surprise.

Meany, reading aloud a text from Phelps said, “I would never do you harm, Skyler. You molded my symbiotic state into a phoenix crystal. I am forever grateful. 4:52 a.m.”

According to Meany, Phelps got ready for his job as an electrician on Friday morning and, instead of going into work, he drove to his former school.  Meany said that Dreyfoos School for the Arts was the one place that he cherished most.

Meany believed that, “he was trying to get himself arrested because he felt in danger of himself.  I think there was part of him that didn’t want this to happen.”

Meany concluded saying, “He never wanted to hurt anybody. He was a good friend to me always. He was a good friend to anyone who knew him, and we all loved him.”

The off-duty officer who shot Phelps is on administrative leave, per department policy.