LEICESTER (CBS) – Neighbors say 24-year-old Zachary Richardson struggled with substance abuse and mental illness. “Death by suicide,” said a neighbor who wanted to be anonymous. “He couldn’t do it himself, so he knew that police would. He was mad at the world.”

New details emerged a day after investigators say he rammed into the front door of the empty Leicester Police Department building Sunday, leading to a confrontation that ended when an officer shot him to death. Police said he pointed what appeared to be a rifle at them. A spokesperson with the Worcester District Attorney’s office said the office would not release any new information on whether it turned out to be a real gun or not.

READ MORE: Chipmunk Wanted For 'Burglarizing' Pelham NH Police Department

“Usually the people that hide it best are suffering the most,” said Zack Squires, who was in the same high school class as Richardson. “He was never a violent kid. He was always laid back,” he said.

The front entrance to Leicester Police Department was heavily damaged when a man rammed his SUV into the doors. (WBZ-TV)

Neighbors say he survived childhood cancer, and at one point even dreamed of being a police officer. But they say he took a dark turn after a confrontation last fall. “2:30 in the morning we hear a noise,” said Miguel Garcia, pointing to the tire tracks on his property. “I saw a truck going that way.”

READ MORE: Police: Woburn Man Who Just Received License To Carry Accidentally Shoots Friend While Showing New Gun

“You could see the skid marks come up along the road and then into their yard and ripped it up quite extensively,” said another neighbor Kelly Moisan. When officers followed the tracks to Richardson’s home, they found his truck slammed into a picnic table. According to the police report, he yelled at them, “(expletive) you pig.” And “(expletive) pigs”. Police wrote that he smelled of alcohol, and suspended his license.

“My heart just breaks…for that family, but also for the officers that had to be put in that situation like that,” said Moisan. “They have to go through a lot.”

The entire incident was captured on the building’s surveillance cameras. The video is not being released at this time.

MORE NEWS: 9-Year-Old In Critical Condition After Being Pulled From Methuen Pool

No officers were shot during the incident. Two were placed on automatic administrative leave as part of standard department protocols.

CBSBoston.com Staff