Man opens up about why he shot his dad

A young man in Spring who says he killed his father to protect his mother and himself opened up on Thursday about what led up to the deadly shooting the day before.

Michael Merritt, 22, is still waiting to find out whether he’ll face charges for shooting and killing his own dad, former Harris County Sheriff’s deputy Brian Merritt, 53.

It was about 5 a.m. when Michael Merritt says he awoke to his dad yelling obscenities at his mom in the other room, then his mom’s cry for help.

“Not only the fact that she screamed my name, but because of the way she screamed my name, I was very concerned for my mom’s safety,” said Merritt.

Merritt says he left his bedroom with gun in hand. He found his mom holding her face.

“She said, ‘He hit me. He hit me,’" said Merritt. "And she was crying.”

Merritt says his dad got up and came at him.

“Me telling him over and over again to go back—get back on the ground," said Merritt. "He just wouldn't listen. He would just keep coming closer to me, so I had no choice for me and my mom’s safety to do what I did.”

The Harris County Sheriff says that’s when Merritt shot and killed his dad then called 911.

“To be honest I might still be in shock because of it, because it’s so many thoughts going into my head about it," said Merritt. "I know it was right, but I can’t stop thinking about it.”

Merritt says his dad had been alcoholic, depressed and violent for the past two to three years, assaulting his mom and him several times.

“He would punch, he would push you down, he would kind of restrain you using the technique he learned as a police officer,” said Merritt.

Brian Merritt spent 29 years as a deputy with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, according to a sheriff's office spokesman. He spent four years before that with the Navy, according to his son.

He retired last year and his dad says the family tried and failed to get him help for his psychological struggles.

“He needed help, and that’s a question I asked the officers this morning," said Brian's dad Billy Joe Merritt. "Where do you go? They couldn’t tell me.”

Law enforcement officers often carry the crises with them, according to Tim Whitaker, the leader of the Houston Officers Peer Support (HOPA) program.

“When you go from call to call, you don’t have time to process everything that occurred on the last call, and you continue to carry it," said Whitaker who is also a senior officer with the Houston Police Dept. "And eventually it gets bad, and we either take it home to our families, or we turn to alcohol or drugs or other other ways to escape some of the things that we see while we're out on the streets.”

Whitaker says if you have a loved one in law enforcement who begins acting different, it’s so important to confront them, ask if they’re okay, and offer help such as the Houston Officers Peer Assistance program, where retired officers are there 24 hours a day to help other officers in need. To reach HOPA, call 832-200-3499.