Watch CBS News

Family: FAU Student's Classroom Outburst Was Bipolar Related

MIAMI (CBS4) - The family of an FAU student caught on video erupting during an evolution class is speaking out about the episode.

Jonatha Carr's family told CBS4's Carey Codd that the 24-year-old has dealt with mental illness since she was 13.

On the video, which has been viewed more than 30,000 times on YouTube, Carr is seen using profanity, threatening a teacher and her fellow students and saying things like "white people suck." She is also seen pushing a student and a teacher.

Carr's mother Joyce and sister Nicole said Jonatha was diagnosed as bipolar more than 10 years ago. They say she is on medication but something must have snapped during the class.

Her family says Jonatha is neither racist nor violent by nature.

"As a family and Jonatha as well we take full responsibility. We don't minimize it because although she's mentally ill, it's part of her," Joyce Carr said. "She's not what that 4 minute video -- or however long it is -- that's not who she is."

Her sister, Nicole, said she's seen her sister act out but the family knows how to deescalate the situation.

"She's ashamed of what she said," Nicole told CBS 4's Carey Codd. "She saw the video and she cried when she saw it. When she's like that it's not her speaking. It's the mental illness speaking."

Her family says Jonatha is normally on an even keel -- like in video from the day before the outburst.  CBS4 cameras captured her preparing for a rally in support of Trayvon Martin.

Her mother says Jonatha is a senior pre-med student at FAU with a high GPA and a goal of helping others.

That's what makes the words so hard for her mom to hear.

"To just hear that, it just goes against everything that I know she stands for," Joyce said.

Jonatha's mother told CBS4 News that her daughter was hospitalized for several days after the outburst and is now at home. She said doctors have given her a new medication that is helping her.

Her mother said Jonatha wants to graduate this semester and her family is preparing to meet with university officials next week to ask whether she can continue her studies.

In the video, students are shocked at the words coming from Jonatha's mouth.

"She said, 'Will evolution will kill off black people' or something like that," says Badal Patel who was sitting in the classroom.

"She didn't like the answer the professor gave her so she flipped on everybody," Patel told CBS4's Joan Murray.

Patel also described how Carr then pushed one classmate in the head.

"She nudged him and his glasses fell off. She came at him and said 'You raped my ancestors'."

Another professor heard the commotion and rushed to the classroom.

He's heard on the video saying "Get out of here!"

You can hear Carr snap back, "You get out of here."

Once outside, the campus police arrived and student Shelby Pelz saw what happened next. Pelz also captured the scene on cell phone video.

"When she first came out she looked crazed. I mean her eyes were literally crossed," says Pelz.
"As soon as cops showed up she pretended to faint and that's when she started cursing white people."

"She wasn't cooperating and the police tased her. The car shook and she shook."

On the drive to the county's Mental Health Center for treatment, officers said they had to stun Carr three times because she refused to cooperate and was acting wildly.

When officers arrived at the Mental Health Unit they said Carr refused to get out of the vehicle.

They had to physically remove her from the car and take inside the building.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.