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Ala. man accused of holding school girls at gunpoint committed by judge to mental institution

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COLUMBIANA, Alabama — An Alabama man accused of holding five girls at gunpoint in a school locker room last year was committed to a state mental institution by a judge Monday in a deal that wrapped up the criminal prosecution in the case.

The court order places 22-year-old Ryan Matthew Sims in the custody of the Alabama Department of Mental Health until a judge approves his release, al.com reported (http://bit.ly/1oCgoTa). Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to the order after an assessment found Sims suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.

"I don't anticipate that in my lifetime he would be allowed to be free, even into a group home," Shelby County District Attorney Robby Owens said after a brief hearing. "We tried to protect society by keeping him locked up and under control for a long period of time."

The court's order declares Sims not guilty of the charges against him by reason of mental disease or defect.

Sims had been charged with kidnapping after the February 2013 gun scare at Chelsea Middle School in Shelby County. Authorities say he walked into the school with a gun and held five girls in a locker room for about 20 minutes. The school was placed on lockdown, but nobody was harmed. Sims, a former student and part-time employee at the school, was talked into surrendering by a sheriff's deputy who confronted him.

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