CEDAR PARK, Texas (KXAN) — Pasha Taylor and her son Antonio both expected all the fruits and vegetables in their backyard to be dead.
“The Texas sun really tore this up,” Pasha said. “It was so beautiful.”
They were both surprised when Antonio salvaged a cucumber out of the little garden by their back porch. He said his older brother, Joseph, planted the garden to give them easy access to healthy food because they both have Type 1 diabetes.
“I would never be able to do this, or a lot of things that I’ve achieved in life without him,” Antonio said.
Their family had been away from the house for around a week, following a dangerous shootout and SWAT standoff involving Joseph Desean Taylor.
“Our worst nightmare unfolded on Sunday afternoon, when my son’s escalating mental health crisis reached a boiling point,” Pasha told KXAN Investigator Avery Travis in an exclusive interview.
Pasha said her son was in mental health crisis. She called 911 for help, worried he might hurt himself or their family.
“There has to be some changes in the system. There has to be some programs put into place to stop this before it occurs.”Pasha Taylor, mother of Cedar Park shooting suspect
According to Cedar Park Police, officers were met with gunfire when they tried to enter the house, and they returned fire. Three officers were injured.
“I would like to thank Officer Jaclyn, Officer Nik and Officer Chris, and know that we are praying for you — for a speedy and quick recovery,” Pasha said. She also thanked Police Chief Mike Harmon and the whole department for their response.
Because the investigation into the incident is still ongoing, there’s not a lot their family can say about the 16 hours they spent inside the house with Joseph that night, while negotiators urged him to surrender peacefully.
Pasha said her main reason for speaking out was to plead for more mental health resources for people like her son.
“When he was Joseph, he was amazing,” she said.
She explained that he got his nickname, “Boogie,” because he was always dancing. She said he was intelligent and kind.
“There’s just something else that comes, and when that something else comes, he don’t have control,” she went on.
Pasha said she reached out to mental health providers in Williamson County and around Central Texas — even showing up in-person on several occasions — but she felt providers were often too overwhelmed to listen or couldn’t help unless her son fully cooperated.
“It’s definitely been an uphill battle, trying to find resources and trying to find help,” she said. “I just wish I could have got him the help he needed before this occurred.”
She said she often felt that getting law enforcement involved was her only option.
Cedar Park police had responded to their house last September for an incident, and again, just over a week before the shooting.
Joseph Taylor was arrested after the September incident, but the charges were ultimately dropped.
Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick said, “They wanted to get mental health treatment. They weren’t looking to put him in prison… I think most families with a family member that suffering from mental health issues — their number one priority and their number one goal is to get mental health assistance.”
Pasha said she’s been spinning her wheels trying to get that help for several years.
“There has to be some changes in the system. There has to be some programs put into place to stop this before it occurs. To get these people the help that they need. To protect our police officers, and to protect our families, and to protect the people that are going through this.”
Antonio had a message for his brother: “Joseph, if you see this, I want you to know that we all love you, and we are fighting for you as hard as we can. It may not seem like it, but we love you so much, and we are going to help you through this.”
At just 16 years old, Antonio already knows wants to advocate for others in the same situation, so he plans to study psychology.
“To just do my best and help my community most ways that most people don’t, like the people that we reached out to, to help my brother,” he said.
As Antonio looked out over his brother’s garden, it was clear he had a purpose: helping others find hope, even when the conditions are rough.