UPDATE: Salem High School hatchet intruder is competent to stand trial

Posted at 9:17 AM, Feb 09, 2015

Virginia Beach, Va. - Kirk Cowart, a Virginia Beach man accused of bringing a hatchet into a Virginia Beach high school, is competent to stand trial.

Three times, his case was continued while officials worked to get him a bed in a mental hospital.

“He looks healthy and relatively together,” says Rob Cowart, Kirk’s father.

-- Much healthier than when we first saw Cowart in a jailhouse interview back in October, which was just hours after he was arrested for walking into his alma mater, Salem High School, with a hatchet.

Rob Cowart tells NewsChannel 3 that his son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after serving in the Marine Corps. Since his son's arrest, Rob says he's noticed a dramatic improvement in his Kirk's health thanks to doctors and medication.

“He slept, he was well fed, he had no pressure,” Rob Cowart says. “At the time he was under stress and his mind was kind of losing it. He didn`t have the mental tools to deal with it.”

Monday, the judge ruled Cowart competent to stand trial after months of his case being delayed. Previously, no beds were available in a mental hospital to give him a court ordered mental evaluation.

“I know this is going to be a good thing to get to the point where we actually have a trial,” Rob Cowart says. “He`s served four months and that will account for something."

There is a chance Cowart could be released next month when he goes to trial. Rob worries what will happen once he's out of jail and out of the watchful eye of doctors and police.

“He needs to be out in a safe place with tools and resources so he won`t come back here,” he says.

Rob says he's working to set up more consistent mental health care for his son through the VA.

That trial is set for March 17, 2015 in Virginia Beach General District Court.


Bond hearing for hatchet-wielding school trespasser continued until Thursday

Father of man who brought hatchet to Beach school: ‘this is what the face of mental illness looks like’

Man found inside Salem High School with hatchet: ‘It seemed like a good idea at the time’