The mother of the man who committed suicide after crossing the barrier of the Capitol speaks out | washington d.c.

The mother of a Delaware man who took his own life after breaking into a US Capitol barricade over the weekend says she believes he suffered from traumatic brain injury growing up playing football.

Richard Aaron York III‘s mother, Tamara Cunningham, said she suspected his high school football past had left him with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain condition colloquially known as CTE. Some football players develop CTE from repeated blows to the head that are common in the sport.

“Something had been going on for a while,” Cunningham told the Guardian in an interview on Tuesday. “And it was getting progressively worse.”

A diagnosis of CTE can only be definitively established with a post-mortem brain autopsy. Cunningham said she requested one from a private doctor as well as the local coroner’s office, but was unable to schedule the procedure immediately.

Nevertheless, in previous cases where CTE was eventually confirmed in football players and athletes of other violent sports, families suspected that their loved ones had previously suffered from the disease due to behavior they considered erratic. or aggressive.

Cunningham expressed his thoughts about his son as police continue to investigate what may have motivated York to direct his car to a barricade outside the Capitol in washington d.c. early on Sunday.

Because the case unfolded after federal agents raided former President Donald Trump’s Florida home on Aug. 8, some have questioned whether the actions of York, 29, were politically motivated.

After all, a gunman enraged by the FBI’s search of Trump’s home for records kept there without permission had attempted to break into a bureau’s field office in Ohio on August 11. Authorities eventually shot the would-be intruder to a standoff.

But, noting that Congress is in the middle of its annual August recess, police said they don’t believe York was specifically targeting anyone working on Capitol Hill.

And York’s mother said on Tuesday she had no idea her son was so close to politics or that he supported Trump – in fact, she believed his voter registration qualified him as a Democrat.

“We’re just not that kind of family,” Cunningham said when asked if there was anything politically motivated about his son on Sunday.

Richard Aaron YorkIII.
Richard Aaron YorkIII. Photography: Courtesy of Tamara Cunningham

Instead, investigators appear to view York’s violent death as the latest episode in a life marred by legal troubles over the past decade.

York, of Dagsboro, Delaware, pleaded guilty to domestic violence charges after police accused him of choking and assaulting his pregnant girlfriend in 2012, according to the news site. Lehigh Valley Live.

He also reportedly pleaded guilty to assault and property damage charges in early 2020 after a colleague on a roofing job accused York of attacking him at his home, the Pennsylvania newspaper Morning Call reported. reported. The colleague was reportedly injured in the face and head, and York was sentenced to approximately seven months in prison as well as two years probation.

Around 4 a.m. Sunday, York drove a car into a barricade on the east side of the Capitol. His vehicle was engulfed in flames as he got out of his car, possibly because he had set it on fire, and he began firing a gun in the air, police officers said. Capitol.

The commotion prompted Capitol police officers to approach him, and as they approached, York killed himself, authorities said. No one else was hurt.

For many, York’s death brought to mind the April 2021 murder of Capitol Police officer Billy Evans. He was killed by a Virginia man who drove his car into a Capitol barricade.

Meanwhile, in 2013, Capitol police shot and killed a Connecticut woman near a checkpoint after she crashed her car into a White House barricade and drove away speeding down Pennsylvania Avenue.

The drivers in each of these cases suffered from mental illness, according to various media.

Cunningham said his son did too. She said she knew he had been on medication for it, although she did not know the details of the diagnoses or treatments he had received.

Cunningham made it a point on Tuesday to discuss some of his son’s best days. York cooked breakfast and made coffee for her grandmother every day, and regularly indulged in spirited card games, she said.

He visited Cunningham and her fiancé most weekends, regularly accompanying them to car races and other celebratory events. He was the father of a nine-year-old boy who he didn’t see often but adored whenever he spent time with him, Cunningham added.

“When he was working,” Cunningham said of York, “he was a wonderful, wonderful person.”

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