Stephenie Glas of Malibu, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound Saturday, had been upset over the past few weeks, especially over hostility in the community regarding the Malibu Lagoon Restoration Project, her boyfriend said.
Glas, a city of Los Angeles firefighter who had become more well known for her vocal support of the project in recent months, was heckled by protesters last week as the project got underway, said her longtime boyfriend Steve Woods.
Woods, who was the only other person with Glas when she shot herself at his home in Corral Canyon, said a number of recent events had been weighing on her, including hostility in the community over the lagoon.
Wood said that on June 4 protesters hurled insults at her for holding up a sign in support of the California State Parks department and the lagoon project, prompting her to break down and cry.
“I wasn’t really aware of how it was affecting her until that moment when she broke down," Woods said. "I think that part of some of the things she has been having to deal with has evolved to one thing layering on top of another thing. I think this was the one thing that sent her over the edge a little bit."
With emotion in his voice, Woods recalled the events of Saturday night, including an argument he had with Glas, whom he had been dating for the past 3-½ years. The disagreement started about their watching the TV broadcast of the Stanley Cup Final together, he said.
“It was a little emotional thing that triggered other emotional things, deep-rooted issues that go back to her childhood,” Woods said.
He said he left his home to cool off.
“I was going to go for a walk or get in my car and drive to let some emotions calm down,” Woods said.
He said he heard a gunshot, rushed back inside, and then called 911.
“I was trying to keep a towel compression on her head," Woods said. "I didn’t know what else to do until the paramedics came."
In addition to the stress over the lagoon, Woods said he believed that Glas may have been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from her work as a firefighter.
“She had been in emotional pain for a lot of years. I had no idea. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand the degree of that pain. It was her only way out of that pain,” Woods said.
Glas also had recently started up the Real Malibu 411, a website dedicated to providing information about the controversial Malibu Lagoon Restoration Project and other issues in Malibu.
“She felt a responsibility on a civic level to state the facts that she believed in,” Woods said. “She had the strength to stand up there and voice her opinion. It was the first time in her life she had really been active in community awareness and volunteerism on a civic level.”
He said she feared confronting some people in the community because of a difference in opinion.
“She was passionate on working for the Malibu 411," Woods said. "She felt it was so important. She took on way too much by herself. It was something that kind of overwhelmed her. It put added pressure on herself."
Woods said he knows many people will choose to believe what they want about Glas’ death, but that he has been overwhelmed with support from friends and community members.
“People can take a look at the police report,” Woods said. “It’s not a homicide.”
The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office has not released the identity of the woman, pending notification of next of kin.
According to information released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, a 35-year-old woman was found about 10 p.m. Saturday with a gunshot wound to her head at a home in the 2000 block of Corral Canyon Road in Malibu.
The woman, who was breathing, was flown to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead, said Lt. Josh Thai of the Lost Hills/Malibu Station.
Detectives believe the wound was self-inflicted.
An official at the Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau, who asked not to be quoted, told City News Service he could not disclose why homicide detectives ruled the woman's death a suicide.
The case is being handled by homicide detectives, which is the normal procedure in the case of a shooting death.
In an email sent to Malibu Patch and others on June 4, Glas wrote that she was pleased the Malibu Lagoon project had started that day.
"I can't tell you how rewarding it was to have all of the State Parks representatives as well as multiple contributors from varying agencies, heading to the site today, to start their work, give us a handshake and a big thank you for our support," Glas wrote.
She offered her thanks to supporters of the project.
"Thank God it's over with and we can look forward to a clean, healthy wetland in our near future!!," she wrote. "Now we can focus on other big, important issues in this beautiful town we love so much."