Updated: Garden Grove mental patient obsessed with Sandy Hook back in custody

Police in Garden Grove are urgently asking for help finding mental patient Norris Phuoc Nguyen, who escaped from an Orange County mental health facility on May 3, 2013.
Police in Garden Grove are urgently asking for help finding mental patient Norris Phuoc Nguyen, who escaped from an Orange County mental health facility on May 3, 2013. NBC

Updated 5:48 p.m.: A mental health patient obsessed by the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School is in custody after escaping from an Orange County facility the day before, authorities told NBC-LA.

Norris Phuoc Nguyen returned to the Royale Health Care Center at Bristol Street and Warner Avenue in Santa Ana at 4 p.m. Saturday, said Anthony Bertagna, spokesman for the Santa Ana Police Department.

Friday afternoon, Nguyen walked away from the Royale Health Care Center, where he has been detained since December 2012.

Authorities became familiar with Nguyen — who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and repeatedly detained and institutionalized — in August 2011. At that time, he walked into the Westminster Police Department dressed in camouflage and holding an assault rifle, saying he wanted to "die by cop," Garden Grove Police Chief Kevin Raney said.

The weapon was not loaded, the chief said, adding that Nguyen did not have a permit for the firearm.

Nguyen was questioned, and police found he was fixated on a teacher at a Garden Grove elementary school that he had attended, Raney said, declining to name the school.

"We have statements and we have the firm belief that he is committed, unfortunately, to harming children at this specific school," Raney said.

Previously: Police want help finding a schizophrenic Garden Grove man who escaped from a mental health facility because he has threatened an elementary school in the past.

The Orange County Register reports that 23-year-old Norris Phuoc Nguyen walked away from Royale Health Care Center at Bristol Street and Warner Avenue in Santa Ana on Friday evening. He had been held at the facility since December 2012. Chief Kevin Raney says Nguyen is fixated on a teacher and a particular grade at a Garden Grove school, but declined to name it.

In August 2011, police say Nguyen also tried to walk into the Westminster Police Station armed with an unloaded assault rifle. Nguyen said he wanted to force a suicide-by-cop. That same month, Nguyen threatened the Garden Grove school, which he once attended.

Raney said the slim, 5-foot-8-inch man escaped while getting "fresh air" outside the facility, under staff supervision.

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