Family: Accused Parks Dept. shooter was paranoid; faced gun charge

SEATTLE -- To hear a family member tell it, Carolyn Piksa's life has been challenging in ways many cannot understand.

Piksa was arrested Friday afternoon, hours after police say she {A href=""}shot and severely injured Bill Keller at at Seattle Parks maintenance center.

"A lot of events that have led up to this situation," said nephew Cody Shearer.

Shearer said his aunt has been affected by emotional trouble and may have been for years. Piksa's sister Shelly was murdered in 1985. She was killed execution-style in a graveyard in Pierce County after the shooter killed Shelly's husband.

But Shearer said recent trouble may have been the turning point.

"She started to develop paranoia and she expressed to me that she felt unsafe in her home," he said.

The family and several neighbors say Piksa's house in Burien was broken into this past July. Shearer said his aunt's beloved dog Roulette was killed during the crime.

Mailman Arthur Conley said Piksa hasn't been the same since.

"That's two different people. I don't know what happened in her life," Conley said.

Conley said she looked haggard Thursday during his rounds.

"She didn't look me in the eye," he said. "She looked down into the ground and was apologizing and it's like she was just numb."

Shearer saw a change, too.

"The way she acted, the way she talked, her body language, it all changed from that point," Shearer said.

Shearer also said his aunt ran into criminal trouble in Oregon. Marion County court records show that Piksa was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm in November. A warrant was issued for failure to appear in December.

Shearer said the family filed a missing persons report after seeing erratic behavior. Blankets and clothing were found inside the truck parked at her home.

"She has been staying in her vehicle," Shearer said.

This nephew loves his aunt, but knows the future may be as troubled as the past.

"Just to ensure that all the information is out there and that she has a fair trial," he said.