Family of suspect who shot two Jacinto City police officers says he has mental health problems

March 21, 2013 3:23:05 PM PDT
We're learning more about the suspected shooter of two Jacinto City police officers from his family. They say the 17-year-old was suffering from mental problems and they'd been trying to get him help.

The two officers were attacked Wednesday night at a home on Oswego. The suspected shooter is also now in a hospital after police shot him.

"I tried. I even tried to take the gun away from him. He wouldn't give it to me," said Vanessa Alvarez, sister-in-law to the suspect.

Alvarez says even with the bullet holes and broken windows, it's hard to believe what happened inside her family's home Wednesday just as Jacinto City police arrived to speak to her brother-in-law, 17-year-old Edgar Cuellar. He was supposed to talk to authorities about a criminal case, but Alvarez says when he saw Lt. Dennis Walker and Sgt. Jennifer Simpson-Castaneda walking up, he tried to run.

"He was like facing this way, we were on the side of him and we were just telling him no just sit down and talk, and the cop just walked in, and when she walked in he just..." Alvarez said.

Police say Cuellar opened fire.

"I didn't know what to do. It was so unexpected. It was so unexpected. We ran back to the kitchen because they shot back. They shot back when he was shooting at them. And I just seen one officer fall to the ground," said Alvarez.

Both officers were shot -- Sgt. Castaneda in the arm and Lt. Walker in the chest.

"I took him to the kitchen and I tried to take the gun away from him I was like just give it to me! Please give it to me! Stop! Stop! My daughter is here! Please! And he was like, nah, nah they're going to kill me and I was like please, please just give me the gun, give me the gun," said Alvarez.

But he didn't. Alvarez, her 1-year-old daughter and her sister-in-law were able to escape, but Cuellar hid inside as a SWAT team swooped in, then more than six hours later.

A neighbor had his cell phone camera rolling as the suspect shot at police, who fired back. Authorities say Cuellar was shot in the legs and pulled from the bathroom.

Alvarez says she knew there were issues, but she never thought it would come to this.

"We tried talking to him to get him in to a mental hospital he didn't want to do it," she said. "I tried to help him so many time. I tried."
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