Slain mother in San Luis Obispo shooting was worried, police report says

Report says victim’s 34-year-old son, who allegedly fired the weapon, was suicidal

nwilson@thetribunenews.comSeptember 29, 2011 

The Arroyo Grande woman allegedly shot to death by her son went to visit him in San Luis Obispo out of concern that he’d been suicidal, according to a police report.

Christopher John Shumey, 34, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, told investigators he’d “felt off” in the month leading up to his confessed shooting of his mother, Karen Shumey, on Sept. 17.

Karen Shumey tried calling Christopher Shumey several times on his cellphone the day of the shooting, but he didn’t answer, so she decided to visit his apartment at Beach and Buchon streets, according to a San Luis Obispo Police Department report.

Robert Shumey told police that his son had spent time in a psychiatric facility at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital about 10 days prior to the shooting after talking about suicide, both of which Christopher Shumey also told police.

Christopher Shumey told authorities that his mother and he met for dinner and to watch a movie in San Luis Obispo the night before she was killed, and he called it a “great night,” though he felt he was distant in their conversation.

But when his mother showed up the next day, Christopher Shumey became angry that she arrived unannounced, he told police. He threw objects and knocked over a coffee table in his apartment, telling her to come back in 20 minutes.

Christopher Shumey told police his relationship with his parents was “sometimes very good and sometimes not so good,” and he felt they kept “close confines” on him, the report states.

Christopher Shumey decided to commit suicide after his mother left his apartment, even loading a shotgun. But he couldn’t summon the courage to shoot, he told officers. When his mother returned, he shot her twice, killing her.

An investigator summarized Shumey’s attempt to explain his actions, reporting that Shumey said because “he couldn’t kill himself, he just needed somebody to die. He said he was angry at himself, his mother and his situation.” Shumey said that after officers arrived, he fired a shot in their direction, not intending to hit anyone. Rather, he hoped police would shoot him because he couldn’t do it himself.

One of the officers who responded to a call of shots fired, Brent Inglehart, reported dropping to all fours, taking cover behind a patrol car, then watching Christopher Shumey through his rifle scope.

Christopher Shumey initially yelled out, “You’re gonna have to shoot me.”

Inglehart introduced himself as “Brent” and pleaded with him to not risk hurting anyone in the neighborhood and surrender.

“I did not get a response for several minutes, and then I heard him call my name,” Inglehart said. “Christopher started yelling to me, ‘Brent, Brent, I will drop the gun out the window and then I will jump out and surrender.’ ”

Robert Shumey arrived at the scene of the shooting as officers were taking his son into custody and immediately began to cry once he learned what had occurred.

The elder Shumey later told police he talked to his wife on the phone after his son became angry with her that day. Karen Shumey told her husband she wasn’t afraid to return to their son’s apartment, but Robert Shumey grew concerned after calling her three times without an answer.

Prior to Christopher Shumey’s admittance to Cottage Hospital, his father said he retrieved two guns from his son’s apartment that his son had taken from a storage unit without permission.

Christopher Shumey told police he found the guns in his father’s home office in Arroyo Grande after returning from a trip to Jamaica on Sept. 13 and took them again because he was still contemplating suicide.

During his interview with police, Christopher Shumey became emotional, and said, “How do I talk to my family?”

Christopher Shumey also told police he hadn’t taken his prescribed medication for bipolar disorder on the day of the shooting and took only some of his prescription the day before. Robert Shumey said his son had a “mental breakdown” while attending UC Santa Cruz many years before. Christopher Shumey tried to plead guilty to murder at his arraignment Tuesday, but San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Michael Duffy rejected the plea, saying because of his reported mental history, his case needed to be examined further. A pre-preliminary hearing is scheduled for mid-October.

The Tribune is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service