According to the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, 42-year-old Bryan Hirano ran away from deputies and jumped into the San Francisco Bay. His body was discovered on Monday.
Hirano's mother, Marilyn Terry, said her son was struggling with substance abuse and might have been hallucinating.
"I want someone to know my son for what he was besides those 15 seconds of a bad decision," said Terry.
Terry missed three phone calls from her son prior to the incident.
"He said he loved me," she said.
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Alameda County deputies tell ABC7 News he was seen by deputies driving around the airport minutes prior to ramming through a gate that led to the tarmac.
"He had a drug-induced schizophrenia, paranoia disorder that creates that situation" said Terry. "He had a great recovery. He built a beautiful life for himself and whatever triggered it... It's done. It's the end of a beautiful life and of a beautiful boy."
Officials said Hirano fled from police after a deputy tried to stop him for running a stop sign around the airport.
According to Sergeant Ray Kelly with the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, Hirano was driving at least 50 mph through an access road that leads to the tarmac of the airport.
After ramming through a gate, authorities said Hirano jumped out of his truck and fled on foot. They believe he jumped into the San Francisco Bay surrounding the airport. His body was later found on Monday.
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Initially, authorities looked into a possible nexus to a terrorist event.
"It is still obviously very suspicious, this gentleman's behavior," said Kelly. "We looked into the vehicle and had to secure the vehicle. On first glance, we saw what it looked like a cache of weapons. Looked like assault rifles and various paraphernalia with hoods and masks. They turned out to be airsoft weapons."
After further investigation, Sgt. Kelly reported there is "no nexus to terrorism that we see at this point."
Terry wants her son's life to serve as an example to ask for help when facing substance abuse and mental health.
"He tried to help himself," she said. "He tried very hard to save his life, but he just didn't win. Addiction is not a game you can win. It's a game you have to commit to on a daily basis," said Terry.
The Alameda County Sheriff's Office sent out a statement: "The loss of Mr. Hirano is very unfortunate and we express our sincere condolences to his family. We wish we had an opportunity to intervene and get him the help he needed. Prevention and intervention are key to saving lives."