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Man ‘Flipped Out’ by Welfare Cuts Shot by Police

October 8, 1991

DETROIT (AP) _ A man who was shot to death when he attacked two police officers with a knife ″flipped out″ because his welfare benefits had been wiped out in a statewide cutback, his girlfriend said.

Stephen Mondak, 33, was killed early Monday at his home on Detroit’s southwest side; his girlfriend, Dannie Olsson, 28, was shot in the right knee.

The two were among 81,000 people whose General Assistance benefits were cut off last week. Each had been receiving about $160 a month, said Margaret Anzinger, spokeswoman for the state Department of Social Services.

The benefits, which went to those who aren’t disabled and don’t have children, averaged $145 monthly and cost the state $246 million in last year’s $7 billion budget.

Mondak ″was trying too hard to be good, and he just flipped out, freaked out, knowing he was going to lose everything again,″ Olsson said.

″I want to make sure everyone knows why it happened,″ she said. ″I’m not going to let that governor get away with it.″

A neighbor, Michael Davis, 33, also blamed the killing on Gov. John Engler. ″This ain’t right,″ Davis said. ″He just went ape because he couldn’t deal with Engler’s cuts. He was a calm person. ... This kind of stuff is going to happen more and more. You can’t just put a person out like he’s a dog. There are no jobs out there.″

Engler spokesman John Truscott responded that ″it’s much easier to cast blame than accept responsibility for one’s actions. Obviously this person had a predisposition for violence, and any stressful incident could have set him off.″

Officers Charles Sabo, 40, and John Skubik, 26, went to the apartment after getting a report that Mondak and Olsson were fighting, a police report said. The report said they knocked on the door and Mondak lunged at them with a knife before they backed up and shot him several times in the chest.

Olsson said she called police but didn’t think Mondak was endangering her life.

″He never hit me,″ she said. ″He pulled my hair; that’s about it. I called the police because he asked me to. He just wanted to have a chance to chill out.″

Olsson was treated at a hospital and discharged.

The officers were reassigned to administrative duties while police investigate whether the shooting was justified, Executive Deputy Chief James Bannon said.

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