Longview mother says son’s mental illness behind disturbance, arson

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LONGVIEW, Texas (KETK) – A Longview woman says her son’s mental illness caused a violent disturbance that ended with her son being arrested and charged with burning down the family’s home.

“One of my sons, he has problems, you know, a mental disorder,” said Martina Lopez, sitting amid the burned ruins of what had been her home. “It’s schizophrenia, and I think today is one of his days.”

Longview police were called to the house in the 200 block of East Birdsong Saturday morning to investigate a report that Lopez’s adult son was having a “violent episode.”

Lopez was reported to be bleeding from a self-inflicted cut to his leg and had broken multiple windows with a baseball bat.

Martina Lopez and another resident had fled the home out of fear and called police.

When officers arrived, they learned Lopez had multiple knives in his possession and access to a firearm. Officers called in Longview SWAT and negotiations teams.

As authorities tried to persuade Lopez to surrender, they began to smell the odor of natural gas coming from inside the home. They then saw Lopez emerge from the home, grab a gas can from the front porch, and go back inside.

Fearing he was suicidal and intended to burn the house down with himself inside, police called Longview Fire to the scene.

Just after 10 a.m., officers reported seeing flames inside the home. Lopez remained inside at first, but eventually emerged, at which point SWAT officers took him into custody.

Longview Fire fought the blaze, but was unable to save the house.

Lopez was taken to a hospital and will be booked into the Gregg County Jail. He faces charges of arson.

Martina Lopez said her son has battled mental illness for years and struggles to find medications that are both effective and affordable.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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