An 85-year-old man is suspected of shooting and killing his own grandson inside an Antioch townhome early Monday morning.
Police said John Watkins is charged with criminal homicide in the death of Ben Phillips, 30, at the Smith Springs Townhome community on Anderson Road.
Watkins' wife telephoned police at 5:52 a.m. to report the shooting. Responding officers found Phillips dead in the bedroom as a result of a gunshot wound to his head.
According to police, Watkins admitted to detectives that he shot Phillips as the young man slept. Watkins said that Phillips was constantly threatening him and his wife as well as causing problems in the home.
Investigators think a medical condition may be to blame for the murder, and doctors say there's a good chance it could have been prevented.
Police say the man was taking medication for memory loss, and dementia may be to blame in the fatal shooting.
"There had been some prior issues going on between him and the grandson, and maybe the memory loss made him think it was recent," said Metro police Lt. John Drake.
Vanderbilt University geriatricion Dr. James Powers said warning signs of dementia sometimes include aggression and short temper.
While agitation or depression is rare for dementia patients - only about 5 percent - those who do have it, can be dangerous.
"We need to look for the warning signs. We need to be aware that people have a tendency of this type of behavior," Powers said.
Doctors say because people are living longer, dementia is becoming more and more common. Right now, there are 7 million people living with the condition and they expect that number to double by 2020.
Again, if you have an elderly loved one who starts to show increased signs of agitation, it's important to seek medical attention immediately.
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