HOMESTEAD (KDKA) — A week before his apartment house went up in flames — arson suspect Edward McDonald called 911 asking for help.

McDonald told the arriving officer that his thoughts were racing and he could not slow them down. The officer called for an ambulance.

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“He was taken to the hospital seeking treatment but did not get it,” said Homestead Police Chief Jeffrey DeSimone.

Police believe that McDonald was taken to UPMC Mercy Hospital and turned away, but while neither the ambulance service, nor UPMC will comment. Chief DeSimone says admitting McDonald for 24 hours’ observation probably would have not made a difference.

“The solution is long term care,” he said, “long term monitoring.”

The chief and mayor Betty Esper complain that since the state mental hospital closed — poorer towns like Homestead have become the home of more and more places like Cleft of the Rock, the Homestead House, and smaller apartment buildings that house the mentally ill.

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“You see them in the winter time walking down the street with their coats open maybe thongs on or shorts on,” said Esper, “and who’s taking care of them.”

McDonald who often quoted the bible told neighbors he heard voices and his feared the Antichrist. But he is not the only person with mental problems here known to the homestead police. In 2014 alone they were summoned on 65 so-called “psych calls” in the borough — 10 already this year.

“They rent apartments here,” said DeSimone, “and anything that’s available in the town is available to them, alcohol, drugs, prostitution and they partake.”

Short of reopening the hospitals, the borough believes more supervision is needed.

“There should be an individual counselor for every patient,” said Esper. “They should be checked on every day.”

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