Exclusive: Academy store shooting suspect's mom says son's personality changed in the past few months

October 11, 2011 3:04:32 AM PDT
In an exclusive interview, we're getting new details of the shooting outside an Academy Sports store. They come from a witness, who is also the accused shooter's mother.

Through the mother's insight, we now know more about the suspected shooter's state of mind. It happened Sunday night in the Academy Store parking lot on Westheimer and Voss. The three who were shot are still in the hospital.

Victor Gonzales, 36, his son, Benjamin Gonzales, 19, and his girlfriend, Kanya Robler, 19, were all rushed to hospitals in the Medical Center with gunshots wounds after the shooting. They were just shopping as we were the suspect and his mother when things turned violent. Sandra Starghil is still in shock.

"Normally he wouldn't have done that and I know he wouldn't have," Starghil said.

Her son, Damion Wilkerson, 25, is in jail charged with a crime she witnessed.

"All I could do is scream and holler," Starghil said.

Starghil says she was with her son and his fiancee Sunday night when they went to the Academy Sports and Outdoors store on Westheimer and Voss. It was the second Academy they had visited. She says he acted strangely inside and even held their hands before eventually leaving and approaching a man and his family outside.

"He say, 'Don't you know me? Do I know you?' and the guy said, 'No,'" Starghil said.

Just then the man's father intervened. Starghil says she begged them to leave but it was too late.

"This woman ran up to me and says, 'My husband's been shot. He shot my husband,' just screaming, screaming and I saw a man slumped over sitting on the floor completely bent over, just not moving," said witness Jade Phillips.

The father, son and his girlfriend had been shot, and when Houston police arrived, Wilkerson surrendered.

"He just laid the gun on the ground, he laid down on the ground," Starghil said.

Starghil says she didn't know her son had a gun on him or in his truck, where police found another. She shared family photos of her son as a teenager and says she has seen a change in him over the last three to six months.

"It was like he really got very paranoid. It was like he didn't trust anyone. He didn't even pretty much trust me half the time," she said.

She believes Sunday night, he snapped and three people suffered.

"I would tell them I apologize dearly for everything that happened. I hate that it happened. We didn't know them. They didn't know us," Starghil said.

Starghil says she's praying for the victims. She also notes her son sought psychiatric help at the Medical Center about a month ago but she's not sure what came of that.

Wilkerson is now charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

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