News Article Details

Father: Mental illness at root of attacks by son

Record - 11/16/2018

Nov. 16--STOCKTON -- The father of a man arrested on suspicion of attempted murder this week said his son suffers from mental illness and is shocked he now is in custody.

Half Moon Bay resident Michael Eckert said his 19-year-old son, Kyle, was diagnosed with mental health issues at the age of 5. He said he has had sole custody of his son since the age of 4.

While Kyle Eckert has suffered several outbursts of anger, fear and despair throughout his life, Michael Eckert said they never have reached the point of physical violence.

"I just don't know what could have caused what happened Tuesday night," Michael Eckert said. "He doesn't have the capacity to hurt anyone."

Stockton Police Department officers on Tuesday night responded to the report of an attempted homicide in the 900 block of Porter Avenue.

Police said Kyle Eckert stabbed a woman multiple times and then struck a man who was sleeping in another room several times in the head with a baseball bat.

The woman was able to escape and get a neighbor to help, Michael Eckert said. That neighbor then tried to calm his son down, he said.

Arriving officers had to coax Kyle Eckert out of the home, and he was arrested without incident.

Initial reports said a neighbor had been attacked, but Michael Eckert said the stabbing victim is his ex-wife, and Kyle Eckert's mother. He was unaware of a man being attacked with a baseball bat Thursday morning.

Officer Joseph Silva, a spokesman for the police department, confirmed Thursday afternoon the victim was Kyle Eckert's mother.

Kyle Eckert had been seeing a psychologist on a regular basis his whole life, his father said. He said his son suffers from depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Michael Eckert said that for the most part his son had been very healthy and if there were any episodes or outbursts, the most that would happen is that Kyle Eckert would punch walls or the furniture.

Michael Eckert said he has had to call police on occasion to simply calm his son down when an outburst occurred. He also said his son had spent some time in acute and long-term mental health facilities.

"He has had episodes where he has been in states of delirium, with me, twice," he said. "He had no idea where he was or what was going on. He has delusions that people are coming after him or someone is trying to harm him."

When his son turned 18 last year, Michael Eckert wanted him to attend college, he said. He even had a plan to set him up in a place where he could be cared for and go to school in Palo Alto.

He said, however, his son wanted to live with his mother in Stockton.

"They had a routine where they would make dinner and then watch a television program at about the time all this happened," Michael Eckert said. "Apparently, he got up to do something, turn off a light or whatever, and I guess he tripped over a part of the sofa. That apparently triggered what happened next."

When efforts to calm him down failed, his son went into another room and grabbed the knife, he said.

Michael Eckert said he does not know if his son was receiving adequate mental health care over the past year.

"Without going to see his psychologist on a regular basis, I don't know if his illness was creeping up on this episode," he said. "These episodes come and go. One day he'll call me, he'll be sort of aggressive and saying all kinds of things that don't make sense. And the next day I'll talk to him about it and he'll tell me he doesn't know what I'm talking about."

Michael Eckert came to Stockton Thursday for his son's arraignment and said he is hoping the San Joaquin County Courts will see that his son needs proper mental care.

"Most of the time, the legal system just throws the book at them instead of helping them," he said. "It's terrible what happens. A lot of times they fall through the cracks and I want to make sure my son, and others like him, are given the opportunity to get the care they need."

Contact reporter Wes Bowers at (209) 546-8258, or wbowers@recordnet.com. Follow him on Twitter @WesBo26.

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