Umland, 30, has been reading the comment threads here on Slog, and he wants people to know that he's just as interested as anyone else in what could have been done to prevent this crime.
He blames himself, in part.
“I think I definitely let Michael down a lot," Umland told me.
He said LaRosa, who is 26, was diagnosed with schizophrenia about ten years ago. Since then "there's been all kinds of programs, counselors." None of it appears to have solved a fundamental problem: LaRosa had difficulty accepting his troubled mental state, and often didn't listen to those who had his best interests (and community safety) in mind.
"I've asked him plenty of times, 'Mike come live with me,'" Umland said.
LaRosa didn't want to.
Umland told me that over the years, he's also asked "a few times" for LaRosa to be involuntarily committed.
It's never happened.
And so Umland blames the mental health system, too. “I’m saying in general the mental health system is not what it should be," Umland told me.
LaRosa and Umland grew up together in Florida, but not long ago LaRosa moved to Seattle to be with a woman he'd met online. (She's the one, Umland said, who later filed for a restraining order against LaRosa over his violent and unstable behavior.)
The moment of LaRosa's departure from Florida highlights a continuing bind that Umland and his family found themselves in.
"We didn’t want him to up and leave to Seattle but we couldn’t tie him down," Umland told me. "We would’ve been the ones arrested for that.”
This is a recurring theme for Umland: frustration with how difficult it was to try to help his brother ("Anybody who’s had experience with mentally ill people—it’s not easy at all," he said) and exasperation at what it takes to get someone like his brother detained by authorities.
“Basically, you have to wait until he’s a harm to somebody before you do anything," Umland told me. "You can’t tell a grown person you’re not leaving the house today, that unless you take your medication and are feeling alright you’re not going nowhere.”
Now this all seems dangerously backward to Umland, and he feels that his brother must have provided authorities with ample reasons to lock him up before the murder of LaRosa.
"There was definitely more that could have been done before a tragedy took place," Umland told me. “I’d much rather him have been arrested for just harassing somebody, and violating his probation, and getting a little bit of an extended sentence than letting it get this far. It was very preventable and should have been prevented.”
To the criminal justice and mental health systems of Washington State, he asks: “Why don’t you skip the part where someone gets killed, even if you have to lock him up?”