San Luis Obispo man arrested for murdering his mother

September 18, 2011

Christopher Shumey

A San Luis Obispo man allegedly shot and killed his mother on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at his apartment on the corner of Beach and Buchon streets.

Arroyo Grande resident Karen Shumey, 65, and her son Christopher Shumey, 34, were in a heated argument when Karen Shumey left her son’s residence.

Shortly thereafter, she went back to her son’s apartment and he allegedly shot her on the upstairs landing outside the front door.

Police arrived and Christopher Shumey started shooting at officers with a shotgun from his upstairs apartment. After a short altercation, he surrendered to officers.

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I found the information about this guy’s mental illness problems to be very very interesting. Would anyone happen to have any data on murders in SLO in which the perpetrator was from a local family and was an indivudal that had mental problems? I remember when I was a kid, a guy who had gone to school with my sister killed both his parents in their driveway. At the time, there was a lot of talk about how he had been able to get the meds he was supposed to be on. I seem to vaguely remember this profile also fit another murder or two, but any details escape me. I’m curious if there are more murders that fit this profile, and if so, how many, and what percentage they are of murders as a whole. ???

Enquiring minds want to know!

mkaney, There is the guy that killed the two sisters on a ranch on Christmas Eve (2010). He was suffering from schizophrenia and there was the guy in Atascadero (also schizophrenic) about two years ago who randomly attacked an elderly woman in her home and either murdered her or attempted to.

The situation with Chris sounds like he did very well on his meds and was symptom free. Usually when something like this happens it’s because they went off their meds. Going off ones medication seems to be a common occurrence with the mentally ill, usually because of the side effects or the mistaken belief that they are well.

Yeah that first one might fit the pattern.. i wonder if other towns are our size that have similar experiences on a routine basis. Geez if that were the case, it woud seem that most of the murders in America would seem to actually be following that pattern, as opposed to one of random violence.

P.S. 7 thumbs down on a noncontroversial comment.. i can feel the love.

I’m not certain what you’re attempting to get at? Most murders in America do not follow a pattern except for the exceptions where we have a notorious serial killer on the loose. The mentally ill generally are not dangerous in fact it’s rare that they are. Even the one’s suffering from paranoia generally aren’t dangerous but when they do kill, it’s usually because they were delusional. I think it’s very rare for a child to kill a parent but when they do, more times than not, it’s because they are seeking financial gain or are angry about having rules and conditions place upon them. They are true sociopath’s but not mentally ill.

I guess an argument could be made that sociopath’s are mentally ill but they don’t meet the criteria (loss of touch with reality). Personally, I think sociopaths are mentally ill but if that were the case the rate of mental illness in the US would immediately more than double!!

Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and the rest of the neocons are sociopaths, and while they have not personally committed murder, the American exceptionalism and World Dominance policies they promulgated and enacted while in government positions are directly responsible for the deaths of 100s of thousands.

So, why are we (mkaney, especially) so interested in local mental illness stats, when as individually and as a nation we let our war criminals run free and reward them with lifetime pensions, healthcare & benefits, and pay to hear them spread their twisted versions of war and personal responsibility?

Oh seriously man.. nice try at being provacative but uh.. I am absolutely 100% anti-war, I would love to throw all those people in prison, and Obama too frankly for his part in Libya.. i am not actually JUST curious about the local stats..

“…why are we (mkaney, especially) so interested in local mental illness stats, when as individually and as a nation we let our war….”

Oh come on R..Hodin, you sound so neoconish when you say that one can’t be concerned with more than one issue. You sound like those that say, why is Obama taking up health care or some other cause when so many are out of work. Unlike many on the right ie Bush many of us are able to walk and chew gum or multi task. This topic is about a man that murdered his mother and perhaps the mental illness that drove him to it, not about peace in the middle east or pensions. I’m surprised at you.

I’m not certain what I’m getting at either.. but sometimes I pick up on a pattern, even if I don’t see the pattern itself immediately, and then i dig for more information so I can get a better picture. I’m thinking things like… as a % of murders, what % of murders in SLO and SLO county involve a long term mental health patient vs. someone who had never been diagnosed..someone who was on their meds, off their meds. Is this % higher than other places. What % of all murders in America fall into these profiles. are there significant regional stastical differences.. etc.. etc..

I feel you’ve brought up some very legit questions and issues. It might too bad for you but my brain thinks in that same way. I also wonder those very same things. Even though stats are often weird and unreliable I use them quite often, they can help us to understand certain issues.

Correction,,It might ‘be’ too bad..yadda yadda yadda.

I just remembered another one, it was the guy that went around attacking sex offenders. He was also schizophrenic. If I recall he stalked a couple of them and hit one of them with a hammer. He didn’t murder them but definitely tried to. Seems like SLO county has definitely had their fair share of mentally ill committing violent crimes. I’m sure there are more that we don’t recall in the last few years. The ones I’ve mentioned have occurred in the last two years. Oh yes, I just remember another one, there was the guy that attacked an older man with a machete and chopped him up on the street corner in the southern part of the county, that was also in the last two years.

I had coffee with this guy the morning he did his deed. I had no idea he was on serious meds and the story goes he tried to get some help at mental health and lacking that went home and murdered his folks, one in the kitchen and the other on the lawn. Sad as hell. I think he did 25 years in some mental hospital and not long after getting out he killed himself and a girlfriend via motorcycle accident.

He was a very nice and talented guy, with an internal bug. I figure we can all thank Reagan for being the inspiration for closing down many mental facilities-bring us this sort of mayhem and the millions of homeless that need, but don’t get, any care. Another gift from the fanatical far right.

Good point regarding the right wanting to do away with funding for these things. Co. Mental Health is so over burdened right now, they need MORE funding not less. Right now Co. Mental Health can’t keep a doc, they are lucky to get one doctor but they need more. The constant change in docs is bad for the patients. Many of the patients don’t want to see different docs ever week/month so they stop going. Shrinks work at co. mental health as a temporary favor or else they are shrinks that can’t get work on their own as they’re pretty crazy themselves. Co. Mental Health is in dire need of help, it’s in terrible shape. The reason for the shortage of docs is due to a lack of funding. We are only hurting ourselves by not funding these types of programs.

Cindy and mkaney bring up good points as well. Many bipolar people like the feeling that they get when they are on the high part of their illness. They don’t want to be mellowed by their meds. When they feel bad the feel really bad but when they feel good the feel really good and it’s very hard for them to resist that good feeling. And as Cindy said some of them feel as if they are cured so they stop taking their meds. But IMO it’s that mania or good feeling that stops them from taking thier meds.

Yes my friend went off her medication all the time. I never had the sense that it was because she missed the manic side of her illness though, in fact she used to make fun of the things she had done when she was manic. She even used to make me laugh at some of her behavior when she would recount it. When she would stop taking her medication it was because she would say that it made her feel so bad. She said she felt spaced out and foggy. Eventually she didn’t display mania any longer even when she didn’t take her meds. She seemed to develop permanent psychosis although she could function in the world undetected! You had to know her and she had to trust you to tell you what she was really thinking. When her husband took her to court, she lied on the stand about all her current delusions because SHE KNEW that people would think she was crazy (she told me that)! Talk about a tricky illness!!

She absolutely believed that she wrote Billy Joel’s album and had lost the contract. She would try to contact him at concerts. She also believed that she and Bob Dillian had met in the hospital and became lovers. She also insisted that her husband murdered her and buried her in their garden but that he had made the mistake of killing her clone, in fact, she had 7 clones and had met 2 of them! Stuff like that was common with her and she held those beliefs for years, medicated or not!

More research needs to be done on mental illness and we need better understanding and treatment. I agree with you on this issue. This is everyone’s problem and I believe that cutting treatment and funding was a huge mistake.

There is the Dr. Rivard murder/suicide, and this one:

Relatives and friends of an Oakland man who drove into a building at the Bay Bridge toll plaza, killing himself and his passenger, said Monday that they don’t believe his history of mental illness had anything to do with the crash.

Ronald Wade McClave, 39, and his friend and fellow artist Mildred Harris, 71, of Emeryville were killed Saturday afternoon as they drove to an art exhibition in Harris’ van.

McClave was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the 1989 stabbing deaths of his parents in San Luis Obispo. McClave had sought psychiatric help before the killings but reportedly did not receive proper medication. He was institutionalized for nine years before he was conditionally released.

It would appear that a lot of people knew this family. Friends are saying what wonderful people his parents are and that Chris had bi-polar disease. No one ever thought this could ever happen because Chris was always such a nice guy and fun to be around. They are saying that in the last few weeks he had some kind of a set back and started acting odd. This is so sad. The poor father, what a tragedy all the way around for this family but I can’t imagine what his dad must be going through, oh geezzzzz, how tragic.

My sincere condolences….

If this is true (Chris having bi-polar), then I would like to ask how he got hold of a shotgun. Or any firearm.

That is not legal, unless he lied on his Form 4473… I hope the family can deal with this tragedy. I cannot imagine the pain that must be going through them.

I have a good friend who is bi-polar, and when he is off his meds, he really is a different person (and not at all nice). It’s amazing, the difference.

He is 34. It’s possible that he purchased the gun prior to being diagnosed.

Oh man, I don’t even want to get into the gun debate but this is a good reason for background checks. They might not help in every case but even if background checks and cooling off periods help save one life then they are worth it.

They do background checks but I don’t think they can access medical records, those records are private.. Unless a person has been declared incompetent or been arrested for committing a crime or whatever, I don’t think it would be available for discovery.

Not sure what you mean by a cooling off period but I know it takes a week or two to purchase a hand gun after filing out the application.

Guns don’t kill people……people kill people.

This is too serious of an article to make fun of what you just said.

If I had to pick between going up against someone like this guy with a knife or a gun I’d have to pick the knife. It’s much easier to kill someone with a gun.

A cooling off period is usually 30 or perhaps even 90 days. A friend of my parents came home and found his wife in bed with another woman while their child was watching TV. He completely lost his mind. This guy drove to a gun shop, bought a gun, came back and killed his wife (quite awhile ago in a diff. state). If he hadn’t been been able to get that gun so fast then he probably would have calmed down and simply divorced her but instead his child is without a parent. IMO it should take at least 30 days to get a firearm. It takes months to get a passport, just like a firearm we should plan our hunting and vacation trips in advance so it’s not a real problem. I also feel that there should be some way to find out if they have issues like this guy even if it means amending the med privacy laws.

Geezzz, what a touchy guy, if my husband had ever caught me in bed with a woman, he probably would have asked in join us!

Seriously, a longer waiting period would only serve it’s purpose the first time that a person got “pissed off enough” to shoot an unarmed person. After that, all bets would be off as I have no doubt, there would be other times in their life when they were “really pissed off”. Also, If this guy couldn’t have got a gun he probably would have stabbed or strangled her. It isn’t the gun, it’s the person.

Well as I said I won’t get into the gun control issue right now but of course I disagree.

Mrs. Shumey was an amazing woman and teacher. She is part of the reason I’m going to school to become a teacher. RIP Mrs. Shumey. You will be missed.

I’m sorry for you loss. I have the utmost respect for good teachers.

According to the Tribune:

“Christopher Shumey was arrested on suspicion of assault with a firearm against a peace officer. He was booked into San Luis Obispo County Jail.”

Now if that doesn’t just beat all. I guess it’s OK to murder mom, just don’t take pot shot’s at the cops!!!

Yea I noticed that too… why not arrested on suspicion of first degree murder?

O.k. playing devils advocate. If you arrest someone (on suspision) you have to file charges within 72 hours, or release, I believe?

My belief is they want to build a good case on the murder and don’t have everything yet. The shooting at the cops was an obviously easy charge to prove and hold him on for now, while they finish working the other charges. Just my opinion.

Come on BTDT. How about suspicion of murder and discharging a weapon at a peace officer? It just doesn’t seem right that he should be arrested for firing a weapon at the police when his poor mother was laying their dead on his door step after people heard him shoot her twice. The charge is actually comical apart from the circumstances.

I agree with BeenThere. I might be wrong but like him/her I’m playing devils advocate. I believe that they might be holding off to make sure that they have enough evidence for first degree as opposed to lighter charges.

You make it sound as if once charged they can’t enhance it or even add additional charges. I assure you they can increase a charge at any time that the evidence warrants it. Look at Kaylee Weisenberg, she started out with Manslaughter and was even arraigned on MS before her charge was increased to Murder2.

My point is that they took the easy way out by arresting him for the pot shot’s he took at the cops and it sounds as if that is what they were most concerned about. Very Comical (and insulting) if you ask me.

I understand your frustration at what should seem to be common sense. I think they handled it the way they’re supposed to, but that doesn’t change the fact that when a system has to work like that, it seems kinda screwy and indicative of a fundamental flaw.

You’re right but I have seen cases where they hold off on charges for awhile for that reason as a matter of fact this is happening in my family right now. They have been holding off as they say to gather as much evidence on her as possible before going after her for first degree murder even though they have evidence that this woman murdered a family member. We are all frustrated and don’t get it but that is in many cases what they do.

Suspect surrenders after firing shotgun at officers, police say

He looks like he has been hitting the meth pipe…

Seriously? I think you need to take a look at meth heads before you accuse someone.

This might have just been a mental issue tragedy…

My friend says he was a totally normal guy (who dated him)

Bipolar people often appear totally rational and in control to those who are not around them for an extended period of time.

yeah true… but ive known a lot of bipolar people, or at least claimed they were, they don’t all shoot there mother. Im just thinking we should probably hold out judgments until more info on motive / his mental health situation is figured out i guess. But you are correct on that

Likewise, not sure always who has really bipolar that claimed to be, but have known a few. A couple of them though removed any doubt from my mind when I wound up around them at the very wrong time.WOW let me tell you, scary loose cannons with very little rational thought. You have a chance of talking a schizo down, but not a bipolar person, at least from my own experience. Definitely not an expert in this area.

There are varying degree’s of bi-polar. Some people simply experience cyclical highs and lows and claim to have bi-polar but they never lose touch with reality (have never lost touch not even prior to taking medication) and I’m not certain if that is really considered bi-polar. I think they most likely suffer from depression rather than true bi-polar.

My friend that I grew up with and went through all our school years with developed bi-polar at the age of 22. I also had a roommate develop it and in both cases, it appeared to manifest over a period of 2-3 day’s. We are talking about going from rational thinking into full blown paranoid schizophrenia within what appeared to be 3 day’s. That is the manic side of it and they do act like schizophrenics until they crash and go to bed. Then they go into a depression. The manic side can be very dangerous because they think people are trying to harm them and if they focus on you, you could be in serious danger if their illness goes untreated. They really believe the things they imagine and may actually try to harm a person in an effort to protect themselves from whoever they believe is out to get them!

My friend focused on her husband and would confide in me which is how I knew that she had lost her mind but my roommate focused on me and even when I was able to prove to her that she was imagining something , she would say thank you so much and hug me (for not having done what she thought I did) but then she would manifest another bizarre delusion. Very very unreasonable insane delusions about how I wanted to kill her! I called her family and told them she needed serious help and then I moved. I don’t know what happened to her but they did take her to the hospital.

My friend Debbie was another story, I stayed close to her and she never really got well again. We all tried to help her but we couldn’t, she was destined to be hospitalized many times over the years and it didn’t end well. This is a devastating illness and we really do need a cure for it. The medications help but what we need is a cure. God Bless people and the families of those who are burdened with this illness and the like.