Family and friends of Kvon R. Smith, who was arrested Tuesday for bringing what he said were Molotov cocktails into the state Capitol, said Wednesday that he had quit taking medication to treat his schizophrenia.
A Madison Fire Department official said the contents of the bottles Smith brought to the Capitol were largely harmless, but District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said Smith will face felony charges.
Don Neviaser, who was Smith's Big Brother, said that until last month, Smith was a smart and promising marketing student at UW-Milwaukee, where he was already a leader among peers though he was only in his first semester of college.
A Middleton High School graduate, Smith, 20, had been using medication to treat schizophrenia that was diagnosed a few years ago while he was in Air Force basic training. But for some reason, he stopped taking it.
"He's literally out of touch with reality," said Neviaser, a life coach whose family is known in the Madison area for its commercial real estate business. "His roommate said that within a couple of days he totally changed."
Bottles' contents disputed
Police were looking for Smith after receiving a report of a video posted on Smith's Facebook page early Tuesday in which he talked about making Molotov cocktails that he intended to take to the Capitol.
According to a probable cause affidavit written by Capitol Police, Smith was arrested after he told police on Tuesday afternoon that he was going to ignite the improvised firebombs inside the Capitol.
The Dane County bomb squad said that in Smith's backpack were "all the components necessary for Molotov cocktails," the affidavit states.
However, Madison Fire Department Division Chief Lance Langer said Wednesday that the three bottles of liquid Smith carried into the Capitol were neither explosive nor flammable. It's highly probable one contained standard motor oil, one clear water and chalk, and a third rubbing alcohol, he said.
Langer said Capitol Police knew of the results of the HazMat team's analysis of the liquids around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, and "everybody was on the same page."
But according to Department of Administration spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis, Capitol Police Chief David Erwin said Wednesday night "what we were told by HazMat was that it was being sent to the (state) Crime Lab" and results might be known next week.
"A tragedy was avoided and our Capitol remains safe because of the actions of our officers yesterday," Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch said in a news release Wednesday afternoon.
Ozanne said Wednesday that Smith will be charged with attempting to possess a Molotov cocktail and carrying a concealed weapon — the purported Molotov cocktails — among other crimes.
"We're going to have to figure out what we actually have in the bottles, and that will likely take some time at the Crime Lab," Ozanne said.
Smith will appear in court on Thursday either for a bail hearing or an initial appearance on the charges, if a criminal complaint is ready, Ozanne said.
Mental health help sought
Smith's mother, Kiya Aikens, said she's thankful that nobody was hurt, including her son. But she said his currently untreated mental illness has changed him.
"I'm really in disbelief about what happened," she said Wednesday. "That's not the nature of Kvon normally. If he has his medications he's able to function much better. It's not him, it's his illness."
On Smith's Facebook page last month he went from enthusiastic UW-Milwaukee student to writing random and disjointed entries and posting many self-portrait photos. What got the attention of police was a video posted early Tuesday in which Smith showed what he said were Molotov cocktails that he was taking to the Capitol that day.
Smith's aunt, Kiyisha Aikens, said that by Dec. 13 it became obvious that something was very wrong and that Smith felt as though everyone was against him. She said she called Madison police and social workers in an effort to get help for Smith.
Then on Dec. 14, according to court records, after an argument with his sister, Smith got into a fight with a Madison police officer. Hours later, after he was released from jail, he fought with a Dane County sheriff's sergeant over a missing cellphone.
Neviaser said Smith checked himself into a mental health facility in Milwaukee on Dec. 30 but refused to take his medication while there. Smith checked himself out of the hospital on Friday, Neviaser said.
Smith's family is hoping now that he will take his medication and get better, and that authorities realize that his illness made him do what he did.
"I just want Kvon to get justice," his mother said. "He's not a criminal."
— State Journal reporter Sandy Cullen contributed to this report.