Salem High School intruder competent to stand trial

Kirk Beckwith Cowart in court on Feb. 9, 2015.
25-year-old Kirk Beckwith Cowart. This photo was taken on Oct. 16, 2015 on the day Cowart was arrested in regards to this incident. (Photo credit: Virginia Beach Police)
25-year-old Kirk Beckwith Cowart. This photo was taken on Oct. 16, 2015 on the day Cowart was arrested on trespassing charges. (Photo credit: Virginia Beach Police)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach judge found Kirk Cowart competent to stand trial Monday. He is the man accused of trespassing at a local high school with a weapon in October.

After court, Cowart’s father, Robert Cowart, told 10 On Your Side he needs help keeping his struggling son from going to jail again.

“I was glad to see Kirk,” Robert Cowart said. “He looked very together. He looked healthy. Mohawk notwithstanding, but he loves the Mohawk.”

In October, Cowart was found inside Salem High School before school hours with a hatchet. Officers charged him with trespassing on school property, possessing a weapon and disorderly conduct.

Robert Cowart gave more insight into the dark place his son — a former marine deployed overseas multiple times — was in that day. He remembers trying to help, before his son stormed outside and ended up at Salem High.

“Kirk was making noises and yelling. I guess he was kind of hearing things,” Robert Cowart said. “At the time, he was under stress and his mind was just kind of losing it, and he didn’t have the emotional tools, the mental tools to deal with it. It’s hard to see your kid kinda not able to make logical sense in our world, but I understand what makes sense in his world.”

He said Kirk had begun experiencing manic episodes and had been trying to deal with them over the last few years.

In October, Kirk Cowart spoke to from jail before a judge initially found him unfit to stand trial.

His father said he’s been in a state mental health facility in Williamsburg ever since. He’s been making great strides, Robert Cowart said. He believes his son needs a safe place with the right tools and resources for the long-haul.

“We need the medical attention and medical accountability for Kirk so that, if he’s feeling low or manic, we have a place to go,” Robert Cowart said.

Kirk Cowart will be back in court March 17. His father believes it will actually be a good thing to have a trial. He said he’ll be fighting for the Veterans Administration and the state mental institution to give Kirk the help he needs.

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