Crime

Knife-wielding man shot at Costco wanted to commit suicide, sister says

The knife-wielding man who was shot by an off-duty correctional officer at Costco on Thursday had been released from Doctors Behavioral Health Center two hours before the shooting, his sister said.

Gary Harlan Scott, 61, was suicidal and had spent most of July in the hospital, said sister Suzanne Perez.

Perez went to pick up her brother when he was discharged from DBHC about 3 p.m. Thursday, but he refused to go with her. She said Scott told her he wanted to kill himself, so she called police, but he got on a bus and left the area before they arrived.

Two hours later, Perez got a call from police, who said her brother had been shot.

Scott had entered the Costco on Pelandale Avenue and armed himself with a knife that was being sold in the store, according to Modesto police.

Costco employee Seth Watson said Scott was wandering around the clothing area with the knife, then proceeded to the cash registers, where he “jabbed it” toward employees.

Scott continued outside, where the correctional officer, an employee of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, drew a firearm and ordered him multiple times to drop the knife. Police did not identify the officer Friday.

Video of the incident taken by bystanders shows Scott lunging at the officer with the knife. The officer is seen taking multiple steps backward, but as the gap closes between them, the officer fires once and Scott falls to the ground.

“I feel sorry for how scared everyone must have been and I feel sorry for the man who shot him,” Perez said.

She said Scott remained hospitalized in an intensive care unit of a Modesto hospital. He was in critical but stable condition Friday.

Perez said Scott was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in June but started exhibiting symptoms associated with it, including depression and memory loss, in October.

“He was in a state of endless agony,” Perez said.

That is when he had his first bout of severe depression and spent some time at DBHC.

Scott continued to struggle with sleeplessness, depression and anxiety, Perez said. He also had signs of dementia, which led to an MRI test that detected the multiple sclerosis.

Perez and her husband left their home in San Diego to come to Modesto to care for Scott. They have been staying in their RV at a campground in Manteca.

Scott spent all but four days of July in DBHC, during which time he missed several appointments with a neurologist for his multiple sclerosis, Perez said.

She said she’d planned to take him to the neurologist Thursday after his release, but he refused and went to a bus stop a few blocks away at Orangeburg Avenue and Claus Road.

Scott has always been a “very passive, nonviolent person and his goal wasn’t to hurt anyone, and unfortunately he scared and put people in danger besides himself when he only wanted to put himself out of pain,” Perez said.

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