A neighbor recounted Wednesday what happened just before an East Peoria man shot himself after fleeing from police trying to serve an order of protection Tuesday. The man suffered from depression, his girlfriend told police.
An East Peoria man who shot himself Tuesday while fleeing from police reportedly had a history of depression, and an order of protection was filed against him that day by his girlfriend, who feared he would harm himself.
"He is not in the right state of mind and I am afraid he will hurt me or my daughter or hisself (sic)," wrote Joy Getz of boyfriend Wilson Bering IV in the court order.
She told police Bering had recently seen a doctor for his depression.
Getz requested the order of protection against Bering, 42, after he was arrested Saturday at their home for allegedly restraining her, keeping her from leaving for work.
Bering was released Monday from the Tazewell County Jail, but it was shortly after he arrived home Tuesday to take a shower and get a change of clothes that he learned he faced more legal woes.
Just before 7 p.m., a Tazewell County Sheriff’s deputy attempting to serve the order of protection knocked on the rear apartment door, but Bering refused to open it.
"The cops kept telling him to open the door, and he kept telling them he’d pull the papers through (to sign them)," neighbor Jerusha Bair recalled Wednesday. "They told him ‘No. Come out’ or they would come in."
It was then Bair said she heard "thumping noises, like something slamming against the wall," in the neighboring apartment where Bering lived.
Moments later, Bair, watching from her kitchen window, watched as Bering jumped from a window. As he fell to the ground, a deputy shot him in the back with a Taser, but the jolt didn’t stop him. He climbed to his feet and attempted to run away.
A second Taser deployed from another deputy, who answered a call for back up, latched onto Bering’s back, Bair said, but it too failed to work.
"(Bering) was smoking and saying ‘No, sir. Please, sir, don’t,’ as they Tased him," Bair said. "He was out of it. It was like he was running in slow motion. They (police) could have grabbed him."
But before officers could get close enough, police said Bering darted into a field behind the apartments, grabbed a handgun from his waistband, held it to his chest and pulled the trigger.
"When I heard the shot I didn’t know who shot who," Bair said. "A few minutes later I saw them (police) carrying him from the field (on a tarp.) They were still trying to revive him when the ambulance showed up."
Bering was pronounced dead about 9 p.m. Tuesday in the emergency room at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria. An autopsy performed Wednesday showed he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest, said Peoria County Coroner Johnna Ingersoll.
His family declined to comment Wednesday.
Bering was the maintenance man for the small apartment complex, said Bair, adding she’ll never forget how welcoming and helpful he was to her and her boyfriend when they moved in.
But over the last few months, Bair and other tenants saw a change in Bering’s behavior. He became withdrawn, drank a lot and often fought with Getz, 35.
Sometimes the police responded to those disputes. Bering has a history of domestic violence arrests dating back to 2003 in Tazewell County and a drunken driving arrest from 2006, according to court records.
"I can understand why he did it (ran from police.) He probably would have gone to prison," Bair said. "I don’t think it should have happened the way it did. Everyone knew he had problems."
Leslie Fark can be reached at (309) 686-3188 or email@example.com. Kevin Sampier can be reached at (309) 346-5300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.