SALT LAKE CITY — Family members of a man shot by police in a hail of bullets after a dramatic high-speed chase through Salt Lake City released a statement Thursday apologizing for "the horrible events that transpired" leading up to his death.
They say they hope his story will help bring awareness for those struggling with mental health issues.
On Monday, Harold Vincent Robinson, 37, of West Valley City, died as officers from several agencies closed in on him near 3300 S. State in South Salt Lake. Fifteen officers opened fire on him in 15 to 20 seconds of continuous gunfire.
Police say the chase began after Robinson robbed two convenience stores at gunpoint, fired multiple shots at a downtown hotel, then began "firing indiscriminately" throughout Salt Lake City as police chased him, pointing an assault rifle out the window at officers.
"We are devastated by the loss of our son, brother, uncle and friend. We called him Junior and we all loved him dearly," according to a statement released by family members through Utah's chapter of Black Lives Matter. The Deseret News confirmed the validity of the statement through Robinson's mother.
According to the family, Robinson suffered from mental illness and had lately struggled with "paranoia and delusions."
"Leading up to the event, Junior had started to express to his mother and siblings his love and appreciation," the family recalled.
Family members had tried to get him help "as he seemed unstable a few months back," they said, adding that he was recently admitted to a mental health facility for treatment.
They said he stayed there for several days for evaluation and seemed "calmer" when he was released.
He was "trying to get back on track," according to the family.
"The family would like to express their deepest sympathy and apologize for the horrible events that transpired and any fear or stress that was inflicted upon the people who witnessed it or were involved," the family said. "We pray that this tragic event will increase awareness of the damages (of) mental illness and the effects it has on the community and the individual's family."
"With proper evaluation and treatment the event may have been prevented and we would still have our beloved friend and family member," according to the statement.
Lex Scott, with Utah's Black Lives Matter, said some family members did not want the statement released. But his mother wanted the family to get to "tell their side of the story about him," Scott said.
The family asked for privacy as they grieve.
Fifteen officers remain on administrative leave while West Valley police lead the investigation into the officer-involved shooting part of the case.