SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- A man is accused of trying to murder a Springfield police officer last night.

We're learning the suspect has an extensive criminal history and the officer who he attempted to stab is the cousin of Springfield's mayor.

Police said that Ruben Barrero Jr. set a fire to his own home last night around 9:35 p.m. They said that when officers tracked him down, he used a kitchen knife to attack Officer Greg Vatrano.

After a struggle with several officers, Barrero was taken into custody.

Court documents obtained by Western Mass News show that Barrero newest charge: assault with attempt to murder.

They also show a litany of prior charges including home invasion, drug possession, assault and battery, and firearms possession.

However, Barrero's family told us that behind this list is a man who's mentally ill. They said they've tried to get him help time and time again to no avail.

"Every time, it's always 'He's not a risk to society, he's fine'," said Barrero's sister, Ebony Morris.

Ebony and Nancy Morris arrived at Springfield District Court with Barrero's medical history in hand, hoping the judge would finally see what they say has been ignored for five years.

"Every time something happens, I'm in here trying to get help and they deny my help. They release him the same day," Nancy Morris said.

Ebony Morris added, "I had to have him removed from my house because he wasn't on his meds again."

"We've been to multiple hospitals and they always let him go after two days, three days," Nancy Morris explained.

Nancy Morris told Western Mass News her son is suffering from bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia - mental conditions she claims contributed to Barreros's behavior Wednesday night.

"The TV is telling him the things that he does. It comes from the TV. All he does is talk about the TV. The cops are the terrorists because in his mind, he's a terrorist and he's not on his meds," Nancy Morris noted.

Acting Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood explained in a late-morning press conference that "Mr. Barrero earlier in the day been removed from 74 Vermont Street, third floor by his mother...Later in the afternoon, was seen for several hours pacing on the porch area."

Clapprood said that Barrero's attempt to stab the officer was unsuccessful, instead striking his uniform trauma plate. However, she claims his willingness to set his own home on fire and his attempt to stab an officer are just the most recent chapters in a long battle with the law.

"He has previous history with the department. Yes, he's known to us," Clapprood added.

Barrero's family said that he's known to the criminal justice system, but not understood.

"I love him, but oh my God, he hurt me and all that and I'd still take him back because I want help for him.  It's not his fault.  He's bipolar schizophrenic and this is what happens when people are sick like this," Nancy Morris noted.

Barrero's family was in court this morning, along with our cameras. Barrero, however was not arraigned. There is a hearing on the status of his mental health evaluation set for tomorrow.

Copyright 2019 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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