Mother of man at center of 31-hour SWAT situation in Owen County speaks out

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OWEN COUNTY, Ind. – A mother of four is speaking out after losing one of her children earlier this month. Jade Griffin is the mother of Mason Johnson, the man killed by authorities after a long standoff last Friday and Saturday in Owen County.

Griffin said it has been a difficult week for her and her family. She can still remember trying to grasp what was going on when she heard police had surrounded a home with her son and hostages inside.

“At first, I didn’t believe it," said Griffin. "I just thought, was the heck is going on. This happens to other people’s families but not to mine.”

When she made it to the scene Friday, it had started to set in. Griffin stayed there overnight and into Saturday.

“It was a lot of uncertainty," she said. "I spent the night in my car because I was hopeful I would get to talk to him.”

Around 7 a.m. Saturday, a tactical SWAT team member shot and killed Johnson. Griffin said she heard the shots.

“We are all distraught," said Griffin. "We are all heartbroken."

The mother isn't just sitting around and waiting for time to heal all. She's joined the American Legion Department of Indiana in its effort to see state lawmakers change their stance on medical marijuana and how it could help veterans cope with PTSD.

Griffin said it’s the same disease that changed her son. He enlisted in the Army at the age of 19 and had a tour in Iraq.

“I thought he would be okay, but he was not," Griffin said to a small crowd at the American Legion's office. "His life was like a roller coaster, he was making bad choices.”

Griffin said the opioid medications getting prescribed to her son at the VA weren't helping him but she was also not supporting him trying medical marijuana either.

“Last year, Mason asked me to take him to Colorado," Griffin said. "I asked him why, and he said to buy cannabis and I said no way.”

Eventually, Griffin gave in and the mother and son drove west and watched him try cannabis.

“His worry faced softened," she said. "His eyes looked up from the ground and he started looking around. He sat up in his chair, leaned back and put his feet out in front of him, as if he was relaxed. I was so surprised. I saw a glimmer of my Mason coming back."

Griffin has fond memories of the trip. She said her son, because of the PTSD, no longer wanted to be in a crowd. However, in Colorado, after trying cannabis, Mason wanted to take his mother to a museum and the two had dinner that night at an aquarium.

It's that trip that Griffin said changed her mind on what the drug could do to help veterans and why she wanted to start helping others avoid the same pain her and her family are experiencing.

“I seen with my own eyes the difference it made with my own child who was suffering with PTSD," she said. "It was a struggle for him. It was a struggle for his family. It turned out, unfortunately, not the way any of us wanted.”