CLINTON, MS (WLBT) - Inside the walls of a Clinton rehabilitation center, the unthinkable happened. An elderly man opened fire and fatally shot his wife, who was a patient at the facility.
“There’s some indication that the victim made statements that she didn’t want to live,” said Lt. Josh Frazier, Chief of Detectives with the Clinton Police Department. Could that have been what led 70-year-old Thomas Bailey Ballenger to kill his wife, 70-year-old Rebecca Ballenger, in Woodlands Health and Rehab?
Clinton police say Ballenger was waiting with medical personnel when officers arrived Tuesday night around 10 o’clock. The retired Jackson firefighter told investigators that he felt guilt over his wife’s illness. She had suffered a stroke about a month prior to the shooting and was being treated at the facility.
“The suspect, Mr. Ballenger, indicated to us last night in his statement that he was very depressed, harbored a lot for guilt for her illness, and he did what he did. He shot her,” said Frazier.
According to medical experts, tending to an ailing loved one can often take a toll on the caregiver. Kathryn Rogers, a licensed professional counselor with MEA Clinics, said that the caregiver must make themselves a priority in order to make the right decisions.
“Even though it’s counterintuitive for them to seek help and put themselves first, they really need to reach out to a caregiver support group,” said Rogers. “Seek help from a counselor, confide in a friend, get a neighbor to help, ask a family member to give them a break. Let people know what’s know what’s going on.”
A 38 caliber revolver was recovered by police.
Investigators say Ballenger had not slept for 30 days before the shooting. He is being held at the Hinds County Detention Center and has been denied bond.