SANTA MARIA - Xochi Farias fights back tears thinking about her brother-in-law Robert Reyes who grew up in Nipomo, attended Arroyo Grande High School and was living in Santa Maria working as a weather-striper for a company that helps make homes and businesses more energy efficient.
"He was a good dad", Farias says, "a good dad, a good friend and a great brother."
Farias says Reyes was shot and killed by Santa Maria Police officers Thursday night after leading them on a pursuit and threatening the officers with a replica firearm.
"I got a call that he was being chased", Farias says, "I think he just was overwhelmed, but I think the police acted too fast in taking his life way too soon."
Farias says Reyes had been struggling to cope with being a single father to two young boys after his wife Gina passed away suddenly last April.
"It was kind of hard for him", Farias says, "for his family and everything and pressures of having his little boys by himself."
Robert Reyes was dealt another personal loss when his brother Nicholas was shot and killed on Tefft Street in Nipomo back in 1995.
Family members say Reyes may have been distraught, but the also wonder why police had to use deadly force so quickly against him.
"He's left a gap for all of us", Farias says, "his family, his kids, especially everybody that knew him, he's left a big gap."
Farias says family members are planning a fundraising barbeque later this month to raise money for Reyes' two young children.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been set.
Interim Santa Maria Police Chief Craig Ritz says the shootings are tragic for the suspects and their families but they've also taken a heavy toll on the police officers involved.
Ritz says most of the suspects killed struggled with some sort of personal problems and were either unable or unwilling to get the help or support they needed, ultimately leading to a feeling of hopelessness and a "suicide by cop" mentality.
Ritz says the Santa Maria Police Department needs help from the community to stop more of these deadly confrontations with police by reaching out to those who need help of some kind and make sure they get it before they make the same tragic mistake.
Wednesday, June 5 2013 5:40 PM EDT2013-06-05 21:40:27 GMT
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