Officer ‘died in my daughter’s place,’ shooting suspect’s mother-in-law says

Stewart Mettz (Facebook Photo)
Stewart Mettz (Facebook Photo)

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) – Family members of the man accused of killing a San Marcos police officer say he had mental problems and was abusive since leaving the military two years ago.

Stewart Mettz, 51, was living at the home with his wife and mother-in-law, Brenda Sinclair, who says she had to go to the police out of fear for her own life.

“He came in and jerked me by the shoulder saying that [my daughter] was being disobedient to him and things were going to change,” said Sinclair, adding that Mettz was always drinking when he was at home. “From the time he came in, it was just one after another, beer, whisky, wine. He was drunk by the time he went to bed and more belligerent.”

San Marcos Police Officer Kenneth Copeland (City of San Marcos)
San Marcos Police Officer Kenneth Copeland (City of San Marcos)

Since he left the military, Sinclair says Mettz was never mentally stable. “We would be in the truck and he would start talking to himself, he would talk to the TV, say that Jesus tells him things to do,” she said. “He was always talking to himself about killing people, military stuff.”

After Sinclair filed a police report, she and her daughter went to a shelter because she feared this was his breaking point.”We had to go and file charges against him; we had to stop the abuse,” she said. “I am so sorry for the loss of this police officer, he died in my place, he died in my daughter’s place. We are alive and I feel very bad. I’m grateful that we are alive, but I feel very bad that this happened. I didn’t expect it.”

Mettz faces a capital murder charge for the death of 58-year-old Officer Kenneth Copeland. According to court documents, police were at his home on Monday, Dec. 4 to serve a felony arrest warrant for two assault charges. An affidavit for his arrest says Mettz opened the front door and began firing an unknown caliber firearm at the officers when they knocked on the door.

Sinclair returned home for the first time since the shooting on Wednesday. She has been cleaning up blood inside her home and said police left a list of everything they took for evidence. “They left a list of all the assault rifles, he had them loaded everywhere in the bedroom,” she said. Along with guns, police also took full magazines and medication prescribed to treat depression as evidence.

Sinclair says she’s still trying to understand everything that happened, but says it’s important for her to speak out for any other victims afraid to ask for help.

“Love is blind. When you see guns loaded, you see someone’s controlling and trying to tell you what to do, treat you like you are a slave or a maid and have no respect for you, you know it’s time to get out because it’s going to lead up to this right here,” she said. “I hope that all the young women out there who see this learn from it and go and get help.”

Victim advocates encourage those in similar situations to reach out

The Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center in San Marcos helps hundreds of victims in similar situations, and Director of Community Partnerships Melissa Rodriguez says it’s important for victims to come forward as soon as there are red flags.

“Most people see domestic violence as a physical assault crime only, and so many victims don’t pay attention to the red flags of controlling behavior, jealousy, isolation, manipulation, control, all things based on power,” Rodriguez said. “Often, they don’t see it coming until it hits a high point. That’s normally when we end up seeing them.”

Rodriguez says says too often, people wait too long to escape, not getting out before the physical violence sets in.

“Contacting law enforcement can be a very scary choice for a lot of our victims,” Rodriguez said. “We know that the most dangerous time for a victim is when they choose to leave a violent relationship, and when you see headlines, it’s usually upon exiting a violent relationship or in the process of it.”

That’s why she encourages domestic violence victims contact a group like hers that offers help for battered women, men and children.

“We’re here to safety plan with them, to give them resources, to find ways to seek the help that they need,” Rodriguez said.

Victim services groups can do so discreetly, so that by the time the aggressor finds out the victim’s taken action, the victim is already in a safe place. The groups can also help victims navigate the criminal justice system and provide help should they choose to press charges.

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