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Mother of suspect in deadly officer-involved shooting says son struggled with mental health issues

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Posted at 7:16 PM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 15:22:14-04

The mother of the man who police say opened fire on officers while they were serving a search warrant at his San Luis Obispo apartment on Monday says her son had been struggling with mental health issues during the pandemic.

San Luis Obispo Police Det. Luca Benedetti was killed in the shooting. Det. Steve Orozco was injured.

The suspect, Edward Zamora Giron, was struck by officers' return fire but ultimately died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police.

Giron's mother, Caroline Wichman, says he was devastated after losing his jobs at The Pad Climbing gym and Costco after COVID-19 hit.

The Pad declined to comment to KSBY News but confirmed in a Facebook post on Tuesday that Giron was a former employee and that he was suspected of breaking into the business early Monday morning.

Wichman says Giron was distraught by the loss of his jobs and developed depression and anxiety.

"When the Covid hit and he lost his jobs, it was just devastating for him," Wichman said. "It was devastating for a kid that worked all the time and nobody to reach out to."

She says she tried to seek help for him but was unsuccessful.

At a press conference on Tuesday, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said authorities had no records indicating that Giron suffered from mental illness, but he had been arrested before for alcohol and property crime offenses.

A local clinical psychologist, Dr. Tim Schenberg, says people who are struggling with mental health issues will likely exhibit changes in their behavior.

When it comes to depression, he says that could include changes in sleeping and eating patterns and how much they interact with friends and family members.

Outpatient treatment, which can include therapy or medication, is usually accessible through a person's insurance provider.

"People just need to know that we care and that we're trained to help people who are struggling and that we have the experience and obviously training again to take someone who is really struggling to give them the skills and support," Dr. Schenberg said.

If you or someone you know is struggling, call the Central Coast Hotline at 800-783-0607.

It's available for free, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for mental health support, crisis, and suicide prevention.