Killer of 5 had asked for help, brother says — (The Long Beach Press-Telegram)

SSRI Ed note: "Hard-working", "likeable" young man, close to family, withdraws, gets medication for depression, kills father, brothers and policeman in 10-hr standoff.

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The Long Beach Press-Telegram

By Connie Llanos, Staff Writer

Article Launched: 02/19/2008 09:40:12 PM PST

Suffering from depression, the shooter in the tragic stand-off in Winnetka this month that left five dead, including a SWAT officer, had asked his family for medical help and was receiving treatment, his brother said at a news conference Tuesday.

Edwin Rivera, 20, shot his father, Gerardo Rivera, and two of his older brothers, Endi and Edgar, inside his Welby Way home on Feb. 7 during a 10-hour stand-off with police. During the shootout, Officer Randal Simmons became the city’s first SWAT officer killed in the line of duty.

Edwin Rivera was later shot and killed by a police sniper on his front lawn as he attempted to flee the house, which had caught fire, apparently from police flash-bang grenades.

Holding up a high school diploma bearing his brother’s name, Wilfredo Rivera – the only surviving member of his family – said his youngest brother Edwin was neither a gangster nor a loser nor a high school dropout.

“We remember him as a kind person, likable, hard-working,” Rivera said.

Rivera said he still has no answers about his brother’s fatal outburst or even a possible explanation or motive. But he said he wanted to extend his condolences to the families of Officer Simmons and Officer James Veenstra, whom his brother also shot and critically wounded during the stand-off.

“The family is at a loss,” Rivera said as he recalled spending Super Bowl Sunday with his three brothers, never imagining that would be the last time he would see them alive.

“We have no way of explaining why this terrible event occurred. … that not only resulted in the loss of our four beloved family members but also in the loss of a police officer, causing so much grief and devastation.”

But he said in the months preceeding Edwin Rivera’s violent attack, the young man had shown signs of depression, became reclusive, stopped working – and reached out for help.

“He called me one night and said, `Can you please take me to the hospital?”‘ Wilfredo Rivera said.

“I wasn’t sure what was wrong. … He didn’t want to tell me what was wrong. … But as we drove, he told me it was depression.”

Rivera said he took his brother to Olive View Hospital that night, and after waiting several hours, Edwin was given an appointment to see a psychiatric counselor.

Wilfredo Rivera said that was the only time he took his brother to a doctor for his mental issues, but other relatives told him Edwin was receiving medical help and medication.

Carla Niño, a spokeswoman for Olive View Hospital, said because of confidentiality policies, she could neither confirm nor deny whether Edwin Rivera had been in treatment at the hospital.

But Niño said that if Rivera had been seen at the hospital, he would have been released after an evaluation and given a referral for treatment at an outpatient facility.

“It is up to the patient if they comply,” Niño said.

Los Angeles Police Department officials said at a recent news conference that Edwin Rivera had begun to show “significant mental health problems” after the death of his mother nine years ago. But Wilfredo Rivera said that wasn’t the case.

“When my mother died, we were all affected, but we banded together like a family to get through it,” he said.