Family and friends of the suicidal man who fired more than 100 bullets in a 15-hour standoff with officials Monday say the man had a good heart and used shooting as a release.
Domestic violence convictions, alcohol abuse and the use of deadly weapons in anger were all part of gunman Lionel Silva's past but his family and friends tell another side of the man who held SWAT at bay from inside a Mt. Helix home.
Shattered windows in the home’s entryway and the lingering smell tear gas are all remnants of the war zone that was 9952 Grandview Avenue on Labor Day.
Officials say Silva killed himself after firing an estimated 100 rounds inside the home and outside at police.
Lionel Silva's ex-wife who told NBC 7 she was abused by him says this could have ended without his death.
Silva’s 11-year-old son thinks the police response was over the top and a best friend begged for a chance to talk his Silva out safely.
“It's hard he hasn't seen his dad in three years,” Michele Silva said.
Michele Silva is left with the difficult task of explaining to 11-year-old Alex why his father had to die.
“Just thinking in my mind what could have happened if he wasn't drinking,” son Alex said.
Lionel Silva lived on the edge. He was an Alaskan fisherman by trade. Off the boat he was the life of the party, a hard drinker with deep emotions.
“Whenever he would drink and drink too much a lot of things would go through his head and sometimes he would just blow up,” friend Milton Neto said.
The family spilt in 2007. He was convicted of domestic violence against Michele and ordered to surrender all weapons.
A restraining order expired just last year.
Silva was an expert marksman. He had two assault rifles, shotguns and hand guns.
Shooting was his stress release.
During the Labor Day standoff the 100-plus shots fired seemed to have no direction from our vantage point.
“If he really wanted to shoot somebody he would have,” Michele said.
His son Nathan called Lionel’s cell phone but he didn't answer. Negotiators couldn't get close enough to throw in another mobile.
Milton Neto twice begged to try and reason with him but was denied the opportunity by sheriff’s deputies.
“Whenever he would get to the point where he was going to blow up I would say ‘Lionel it's me, chill out, it's your bro, I'm here,’” Neto said.
Silva seemed to do everything to the maximum including trips, parties, and work.
“He had a lot of people that loved him. He had a good heart,” Michele said.
The county’s special response team waited out Silva for a half a day without firing a shot other than the tear gas canisters employed to try and encourage him to come out of the home.
San Diego County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Jan Caldwell said allowing a family member or friend to approach the house could have been catastrophic.
Caldwell is also a former negotiator and added that deputies don't send people inside a situation like the one they encountered on Monday.