Children of Michael Berry say everything was fine until January, when their 50-year-old father began distancing himself from friends and family members.
“It was as if when he knew he was on that steady downfall,” daughter Tonya Scott said in an exclusive interview. “He pushed everyone away to keep us away from whatever he was going through.”
Last Thursday, Michael Berry was shot and killed at his Sweetwater home after police say he refused to surrender after being asked at least 30 times and reportedly fired shots at officers.
Scott and Michael Berry’s son, Bryan, said they knew something might have been wrong with him after the first time he was arrested for stealing a front end loader from L.R. Sells & Son Scrap Iron on West Broadway.
The business is located across the street from where Michael Berry lived, which was near the old Midway Drive-in.
“He didn’t know why he was in jail,” Scott said. “He said he didn’t know why they were there, didn’t understand what had gone wrong, (that) it was his loader, (that) he didn’t do anything wrong, and he didn’t know why they wouldn’t let him go.”
Michael Berry’s two children said they had thought about getting him mentally evaluated and that they were planning to do so after his first arrest.
“He did 22 days in jail,” Scott said. “I was informed it would be done because we spoke with them, the Sweetwater Police Department, the county attorney, the district attorney, adult protective services. Everyone said we were doing everything we could to get him the help he needed at that time.”
However, Michael Berry’s brother bailed him out of jail before it was able to happen.
Michael Berry’s children believe that in his mental state before he was killed, he may have been confused.
“In his frame of mind that he was in,” Scott said, “I don’t believe he thought he was stealing the loader. I believe he was just thinking he was able to use it.”
Michael Berry took it a second time, which led to the standoff and ultimately his death.
His children are waiting on more information on the standoff and what happened to their father that day. Investigators called Tonya Scott to the scene, but she was not able to reach him by phone or talk on the megaphone outside of his trailer that day.
“If he was able to hear my voice,” she said, “he would have stopped, something would have clicked. I do believe he would have realized at that point I need to stop …”
“We’re waiting on the results on the autopsy and the police report,” said Bryan Berry, Michael Berry’s son. “I want to go through everything. I want to see everything. Up to this point all we have is speculation.”