Suspected cop shooter's family: He was mentally ill, he needed help

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by Timothy Wetzel / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on March 21, 2013 at 2:43 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 21 at 5:40 PM

JACINTO CITY, Texas— A family says they knew something was terribly wrong with their teenage loved one long before he allegedly shot two police officers.

Edgar Cuellar’s family watched early Thursday as a police tank and SWAT team busted through the walls of their home on North Oswego Street. They were there to arrest Cuellar, 17, for allegedly shooting two police officers. 

Then they heard the gunfire.

“They told us they killed him,” said Cuellar’s brother-in-law, Ricky Alvarez. “I mean, after 30 rounds, what else can you think?”

But Cuellar wasn’t dead; he had been shot twice in the legs. Police later told the family the teen survived and was on his way to the hospital.

Alvarez said there’s no question that his brother-in-law was disturbed.

“He started acting weird lately and it escalated into this,” he said.

He said the teen recently became withdrawn and started getting into trouble.

“We have been trying to get him help, ”said Cuellar’s sister Vanessa Alvarez.

Family members said things got out of control Monday night when the teen pulled out a gun and shot at a Harris County deputy’s patrol car. 

They tried to convince him to turn himself in. They even called police Wednesday to report Cuellar was at home. When cops arrived, Cuellar allegedly pulled a gun from his pants and shot two police officers.

Lt. Dennis Walker was struck in the chest and Sgt. Jennifer Simpson-Castaneda was hit in the leg. Both are in stable condition at area hospitals.

“We were trying to think what was going through his mind,” said Ricky Alvarez. “Nobody knows.”

Family members believe Cuellar has mental problems for the last two years.  Cueller was living with his mother in LaPorte but often visited his brother in Jacinto City. He recently dropped out of Furr High School, but family members said he was trying to get a GED.

They said he was seen talking to himself, and would smirk in an awkward way when family members asked who he was talking to.

A neighbor said she saw the teenager begin to cry in her home for no reason.

The Cuellar’s say they had tried to get him committed to a mental institution. However, they said the facility would not accept him because he had not physically hurt anyone. They tried to convince him to voluntarily get an evaluation.

Vanessa Alvarez said her brother was afraid he would be declared crazy and locked up.

When they called police, they were hoping it would be a way to get him help, they never thought it would lead to more violence.

“I feel for the officers, but I also I feel for him, because nobody knows what he was thinking,” said Ricky Alvarez.

“I understand they are going to put him in jail,” said Ricky Alvarez. “But at the same time, I hope he gets some help.” 

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