The shooting death last week of a knife-wielding, mentally ill and apparently suicidal 31-year-old Javier Garcia Gaona by Santa Maria Police triggered emotional outbursts from onlookers about the police use of deadly force.
“It could have been my son that was shot”, says Lompoc mother San Silva, “its happening everyday, I see a different person that has mental problems that gets killed or they kill themselves, I think they need to make a hospital or something more for mental health patients.”
Silva is the mother of 24 year old Mario Saldivar who’s in Santa Barbara County Jail and awaiting sentencing on Tuesday for at least four years in state prison for armed robbery and other felony charges stemming from a crime spree he went on earlier this year.
“I don’t think its fair”, Silva says, “three weeks prior (to her son’s crime spree), I called for help, and nobody was hearing me, I wish that people would listen to the mothers when they say their children are in need of help.”
Silva says her son has been clinically diagnosed as bi-polar and schizophrenic.
She says after he was arrested earlier for other, unrelated crimes she tried but failed to get him 24 hour, residential mental health treatment either with Santa Barbara County or with another local agency or organization on referral.
“When I called them (police) to take him in to custody, they let him walk”, Silva says about reporting her own son to police, “they’ve seen that he wasn’t corresponding correctly and they said there’s nothing we can do, that’s a (county) mental health issue, that’s what they told me, and then Mental Health said he had to commit a crime before they could help him, I mean, I don’t think its justice.”
Silva says she’s coming forward to share her ordeal with the public to help draw attention to what she says is a local mental health care crisis in Santa Barbara County.
“I’m trying to be a voice for other mothers that cannot standup for their children”, Silva says, “but I am standing up for my child, I love my son so much that I would do anything to help him, and I know there are a lot of mothers out there who feel the same way but they just don’t know how to express themselves.”
Mario Saldivar is expected to be sentenced to prison as a part of a plea agreement Tuesday morning in Lompoc Court.