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Mother of man killed by Las Vegas police: ‘I didn’t want him dead’

Updated August 12, 2020 - 8:21 am

A man fatally shot by Las Vegas police after taking his mother hostage was a paranoid schizophrenic who struggled with substance abuse for years, his family said Tuesday.

“He battled mental illness and addiction,” Samantha Squires said of her brother, Joshua. “He wasn’t a bad guy. He just got lost.”

Las Vegas police said they killed Joshua Squires, 32, Monday morning after he took his mother, Toni, hostage at gunpoint at the family’s residence in the Storeyville Manufactured Home Community, 3755 N. Nellis Blvd.

Joshua Squires’ mother, sister and brother-in-law said the police shooting ended a devastating journey in which the family tried for years to get him mental health assistance, only to see him steadfastly refuse it.

“We tried and tried and tried to help him,” Toni Squires said. “He just didn’t want it.”

The family members talked about Joshua Squires in front of their mobile home, which was badly damaged by the SWAT incursion the previous day. Most of the windows, and the main entry door of the residence, were covered by plywood.

Toni Squires said her son was diagnosed as a schizophrenic in his 20s. She said there were periods of time when he took medication, and it helped.

“He functioned,” she said. “You could have a good conversation with him.”

But when he was off his medication, his mother said, “he was not the same person.”

“He would talk to the people in his head all the time,” Toni Squires said. “He would be talking to himself, and I would say, ‘Who are you talking to?’ ”

“People in my head,” Joshua Squires would respond.

The family watched him slowly spiral out of control because of mental illness and drug abuse. A recent bad relationship with a woman didn’t help either, relatives said. He was on the verge of being evicted from his family’s home at the time of the shooting.

Early Monday, police identified Joshua Squires as a suspect in a string of vandalism incidents at a nearby business lot and another mobile home park off Nellis. They tracked him to his mother’s mobile home.

Police said Joshua Squires brandished a firearm, prompting an officer to fire a shot at him, but the shot missed. The man then barricaded himself in the mobile home and held his mother hostage.

A police SWAT team broke into the home and shot Joshua Squires while rescuing Toni Squires.

The family did not dispute the police account, but they wished police had not shot their loved one.

“I didn’t want him dead,” Toni Squires said. “He was my only son.”

Toni Squires said that when her son came into the home, with police outside, he didn’t say anything. He went into the bedroom and stayed in there for a while.

“Then he was pacing back and forth, back and forth,” his mother said. “They wanted me to come out, and he said, ‘No. She’s my leverage. She’s my hostage.’ That’s why they did what they did.”

Toni Squires said she never feared for her safety. She said her son would never hurt her.

“They were firing their guns when they came in,” the woman said. “They came in and grabbed me. And, they started firing more. I was standing right there, sitting in my chair, when they broke my window, my door, I jumped up, and the cops came in. They grabbed me. They got me out, then I was in a cop car the rest of the day.”

Toni Squires said she didn’t see the shooting. She was eventually told by her daughter that her son was dead. The family wants the Las Vegas public to know that Joshua Squires was a good person tormented by mental illness.

“Don’t give up on them,” Toni Squires said of people with mental health struggles. “They need your patience and need your support. I couldn’t help him because I didn’t have the knowledge to help him. He battled something I really didn’t know anything about.”

Contact Glenn Puit by email at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

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