NEW ORLEANS — There was only one word that came to mind after two people were attacked outside of Pastor Page Brooks' Canal Street Church last week: Forgiveness.
Police have said Uhuru Howard randomly stabbed a woman and cut another man as they dropped off their children for daycare.
“We're all personally responsible for our actions, and we need to be held accountable for that, but then also realize that this attacker was a regrettable product of what we've got in our society," Brooks said.
Questions about Howard’s mental health quickly came into focus and were the center of a court hearing Thursday, during which she had several outbursts.
A psychiatrist testified that Howard suffers from mental health issues, and Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell said she is unfit to stand trial right now. He ordered her to the state mental hospital in Jackson. Those who know her said they hope she can get the necessary help.
PREVIOUSLY: Two stabbed outside Canal Street Church
The victims of the stabbing have all returned home and are healing well, Brooks said.
While Howard is not a member of the church, she's also no stranger to some members, including some who have known her for years.
"The one who knew her in elementary and junior high talked about how sweet she was and how he had fond memories of her,” Brooks said. “But then we look at her now, and I think it forces us to ask the question, 'Well, what things happened to her that brought her to this point?' And then how are we going to be able to help her and others like her in the future?'"
Attorney Jeff Blue represents Howard’s mother. He said his client agrees that there has to be a better way to help those with mental health issues -- and she wants to help bring about change.
"Ultimately, the best plan would be a complete continuum of services that wrap around so that there are no cracks for people to fall through,” Blue said. “That's what she's going to advocate for."
As for the church members, Brooks said he and the congregation have Howard in their prayers and hope that there can be a positive outcome after last week’s attack.
"In her case, I'm hoping for the best and praying for the best,” Brooks said, “but we need more of that to make sure we have prevention rather than just simply trying to provide care at this point, especially in circumstances like this."