Family members of the man who killed three and wounded two before being gunned down by Cincinnati police Thursday fought to get him committed to a mental health facility, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. Omar Santa Perez’s mother and sister argued before Palm Beach County, Fl., judges that at least twice that he was violent and mentally ill. In both instances, a judge required that he be evaluated by mental health professionals. Santa was punching walls, talking to himself, refusing to take medication and frightening his sister and mother in various incidents between 2010 and 2012. Santa was referred by a judge in Broward County to be diverted to a mental health court. People who go into treatment involuntarily typically are prevented from buying a gun legally. It’s unclear whether Santa went into treatment voluntarily or involuntarily.
Cincinnati police say Santa bought his 9 mm semiautomatic handgun legally on Aug. 2, a day after his 29th birthday. There has been no clear motive offered by police for the Cincinnati shooting. Local relatives of Santa were stunned by the news of last week’s shooting. They knew Santa as quiet and believed he was working. Records show Santa displayed a pattern of erratic behavior over the course of several years. The Coconut Creek, Fl., Police Department arrested Santa in 2010 on charges including disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence. Santa, who was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, had been living in the Cincinnati area since 2015. Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spokeswoman Suzanne Dabkowski said each state has a different interpretation of what constitutes involuntary mental commitment that would block a gun purchase. “It gets really hairy,” she said.