Caroline Wichman of San Jose said she tried to warn San Luis Obispo city authorities about the declining mental state of her 35-year-old son, Edward "Eddie" Zamora Giron II.
After losing two jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, Giron fell into isolation and started exhibiting worsening signs of a serious mental illness, she said. In late 2020, Giron "disappeared" to Mexico for three weeks, which deeply worried the family.
It was his erratic behavior when he returned to SLO, though, that worried them even more.
"He started talking to himself. And he kept thinking that people were watching him, out of paranoia," Wichman told New Times on May 11. "We couldn't get him any mental help. We tried over and over."
On May 10, six SLO police officers served a search warrant at Giron's apartment on Camellia Court in SLO, as part of an investigation into a series of recent commercial burglaries, including one at The Pad Climbing gym, Giron's former workplace.
When officers forced open Giron's door at around 5 p.m., officials said he "was lying in wait" inside with a gun and opened fire. During the exchange, Giron shot and killed SLO Police Detective Luca Benedetti, 37, and injured Detective Steve Orozco before turning the gun on himself.
At an emotional press conference the next day, SLO County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said he believes Benedetti is the first peace officer to be shot and killed in the line of duty in SLO County in at least 36 years.
SLO City Manager Derek Johnson called the incident "a tragedy beyond measure," and acting SLO Police Chief Brian Amaroso described Benedetti, a 12-year veteran of local law enforcement, as "a dedicated officer, a talented detective, a proud member of the SLO Regional Swat Team, and most importantly, a loving husband and father." Orozco is expected to make a full recovery.
Officials provided little additional details about the involved officers, Giron, or the ongoing investigation into the shooting, which will be conducted by the SLO County Sheriff's Office and SLO County District Attorney's Office.
- Photo Courtesy Of Caroline Wichman's Facebook Page
- TRAGEDY Edward "Eddie" Zamora Giron II (pictured) shot and killed a SLO police officer on May 10, before taking his own life.
Parkinson said Giron had a non-violent criminal history of alcohol, drug, and property related offenses. He said that nothing in Giron's file suggested a history of mental illness.
But Wichman—Giron's mother—stated otherwise. She said she made multiple attempts over the past six months to contact SLO authorities about her son's deteriorating mental state. She said she requested welfare checks and even asked that he get placed on a psychiatric hold under Welfare Code 5150.
"We tried to get SLO to do a 5150 on him," Wichman said. "They said we couldn't do a 5150, even after he was missing for three weeks. When he showed back up, they didn't do anything. They didn't even go to his house to check on him."
Sheriff's Office spokesperson Tony Cipolla said the department couldn't comment on the ongoing investigation. The SLO Police Department also declined to comment.
"All we can say at this point is that we will be looking at all aspects of this case, including mental health factors," Cipolla said.
Wichman said she's concerned that police officers went into their search without an understanding of her son's state of mind.
"They did not get any history about what was going on," she said.
After the onset of COVID-19, Wichman said Giron lost his two jobs at The Pad Climbing gym and Costco. The break-up with The Pad was particularly painful for Giron, who was an avid climber since his youth, she said.
"It just threw him," she said. "It was the climbing gym that would not leave his mind. ... He had a festering resentment and it was making him sick."
On May 10, The Pad reported an overnight burglary of between $15,000 and $20,000 worth of equipment. Following the shooting, police said they did recover stolen property at Giron's apartment, but did not confirm it belonged to The Pad. The Pad declined to comment, but issued a statement on social media.
"We would like to express our deepest gratitude to the SLO PD and extend our hearts to the officers who were shot, their families and their colleagues," the post read. "As we learn more about what happened with Eddie, we hope there is something to be learned."
Wichman expressed shock and sadness about her son's actions, and she cried as she talked about the police officers who her son shot and the loss that Benedetti's family must be feeling, and the loss that she's feeling over her son. She added that the series of events underscores the need for better mental health services and support systems.
"Before this year, I'm telling you, he was an angel. You wouldn't even expect him to spit on the sidewalk," Wichman said. "This is my message to SLO: You know what, people aren't invisible. There are a lot of people who are struggling and you can't turn your face away from these people." Δ