Parents of gunman talk publicly for the first time

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ENCINITAS, Calif. – The mother of the 22-year-old gunman, Evan Kim Tian Kwik, who shot two Sheriff’s deputies Wednesday then took his own life after a 10 hour SWAT standoff, talked about her son’s life-long struggle with mental illness and drug addiction.

kwik pic“He said he was going to kill himself for years,” said Michelle Kwik. “I had gone through his stuff [and] took out every knife I could find. I hid everything. I had no clue he had a shot gun.”

Michelle and Steve Kwik said there were signs that Evan had emotional problems as early as preschool.

“He struggled with self-esteem” said his mom.

He was self-medicating with drugs by high school and discovered heroin when he was 18.

“Once he hit heroin, heroin is evil, black tar heroin is rampant here. [Evan] even said to me, ‘Mom it’s in junior high school and high school now. It’s so sad,” she recalled.

The Kwiks said Evan was continuously in therapy and trying new medication to deal with depression, but he suffered serious negative side effects.

“He flipped our car on one medication, totaled it. He cut himself on one medication, he started having seizures on another,” said Michelle.

Evan’s father said they were attentive parents, who helped out in the classroom and always tried to encourage their son.

“When you self-medicate, you’re no longer in your own state of mind. You alter your state of mind. He wasn’t the same person,” said Steve Kwik.

As early as two months ago, Evan was admitted to the hospital as he was a danger to himself or others. Evan was released without her knowledge after 48 hours. Michelle Kwik believes this is where the mental health system failed.

“I said to her, on the phone, ‘how could you let him go? He’s going to kill himself. He could kill other people. He’s agitated and he coming off drugs.’ She told me, ‘he’s not talking to himself and he’s not walking circles around himself,’” she said.

Michelle Kwik admits when she called police Wednesday to report her car stolen, she hoped her son would be arrested and forced into rehab.  Never did she dream it would end with her son dead.

Her husband said they are sorry for the injuries sustained by the Sheriff’s deputies and grateful for how they handled the situation.

“No matter what you want or try they also have a will of their own and unfortunately it ended tragically and officers got hurt. Thank God more people didn’t get hurt.”


  • Del Mar Mom

    I had tears of agreement for this mother. This is a sickening realty that exists in our county. We have to do something. May the parents remain strong within their grief. My heartfelt sympathy to you both.

  • aaa

    The store or person who sold or gave him that shotgun ought to be hanged ! Get rid of all guns in the streets ! The answer to gun violence is NOT more guns like the NRA wants. The answer to stop selling guns ! Especially to young kids.

    • David

      You cannot really believe that guns are the problem. I am 45, and I have been around and owned guns my whole life. I have never had a single incident. My entire family and all my friends are the same. Most of the millions of gun owners are law abiding tax paying lovers of the great country. More people are killed in car accidents related to alcohol EVERY DAY than are involved in a gun related incident. Are you going to ban cars? Clearly they are the problem.

  • Momofthree

    My heart breaks for the parents. They truly seem like good people who tried everything they could to help their son. It's obvious that they feel horrible about what he did, but at the same time they are grieving for him. I can't even imagine. I have to give the police a lot of credit for how they handled the situation. I am so grateful none of them were killed.

  • guest

    I am deeply saddened to learn of this situation. My son grew up in Encinitas and also became addicted to heroin. Many of his friends have died of overdoses. My heart is heavy for Evan's parents and sister. Clearly they loved their son and tried to seek help for his problems. As the parent of a drug addict, I am appalled at the stigma that exists around drug addiction. There is so much "judgment" in society that it is difficult to find the resources and support necessary to heal or address the problem. Like many things, only the wealthy can afford comprehensive drug rehab…. May Evan rest in peace, no longer tormented by the evils of drug addiction. I have nothing but compassion for his loving parents, who did all they could.

  • David

    Sad to see a young man lost again. The problem wasn't guns though. Again, a failed mental health system has allowed this tragedy. People die every day in mass from alcohol related accidents, but people aren't calling for the banning of cars. People aren't even calling for banning alcohol. The problem is with the individuals and the decisions they make while impaired. The mental health system has long been a huge problem in the US. You cannot control everything.

  • Francine Latasa

    I feel so much sadness for the young man and his family. Mental illness has been documented since the time of the Pharos. What we need are effective mental health policies. What occurred in CA policy change with then Governor Reagan, eliminated many protections for the mentally ill while at the same time offered self-determination. A lot of work needs to be done now to help those suffering but we cannot lay blame on any one system. We need more recovery centers available, more education on substance abuse and mental illness and not gun elimination but more gun control. The various agencies should work together for the health and safety of our communities.

  • Guest

    Another family in despair. I believe that we should direct our efforts against the real killer: Heroin. Heroin is already outlawed, yet is cheap and easy to get. It is dangerous, but in our schools. It causes an already troubled young man to end his life in such a tragedy. It invades our homes and lives and no one is safe from its effect. Our society must wake up and wage war against this killer. My heart and prayers go out to this family.

  • concerned citizen jj

    Did you know that this state has a law called Laura's Law that a group of people have been trying to implement here in our county? It would mandate treatment on people with mental illness who have met certain criteria (perhaps like Evan's case). Evan could have been stabilized and received mandated treatment. This is a lawsuit waiting to happen for our county. Evan's parents should be made aware of this law and speak up. Shame on the county for not helping our most vulnerable population. Our county has opposed it even though the advisory board to the board of supervisors reviewed it and made the recommendation to implement it. It could save our county millions of dollars. It has proven to work.
    Forget gun control We should be screaming we want mental health control!

  • Samuel G Hernandez

    Mr. and Mrs. Kwik (if you happen to read this im not sure)I am a current neighbor of yours,at 864.My heart go's out to you ,and your family.I just went through coming home to my Dad ,hanging from our patio on Jan 16th 2013.He was On Zoloft,and Zyprexa,both of which I had asked he be taken off of and for something else to be tried.these meds are horrible and the doctors also are to blame.To them the kick backs from the pharmaceutical companys are more important, than the well being of a human being! Its all about greed,and the thing is we really cant prove nothing its like they are a part of the IRS. My father was Depressed like Evan,and 27 years ago was a drinker and user himself.He got clean but then was slowly becoming lost,and as much love,help,care,etc. I gave him he didnt know what he was doing.We had no sign of his doing this,his last words to me the night before were Im going to bed,ill see you tomorrow. FYI have you noticed the cost of these meds increasing little by little??? (STRANGE HUH!!!!)

  • Melody Murphy

    This story is so familiar. I just this week got back from Pocatell Idaho where we layed to rest my nephew that couldn't get the mental or medical help. He ended his life with a high speed chase, taking a hostage and then being shot by the police. His mother too called the police to notify them that he was unstable and begged them not to shoot him. He had no insurance and the system failed him.
    My condolences go out to the Kwiks.

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