Trial date set for man accused of killing 3 family members on Thanksgiving
CHESTER, VA (WWBT) - A youth pastor from Chester charged with three counts of murder after police say he shot and killed his wife, step-daughter and his step-daughter's boyfriend Thanksgiving night, will face a three-day trial in November.
On April 11, a judge certified a first degree murder charge against 58-year-old Christopher Gattis for the shooting death of his stepdaughter's boyfriend, 36-year-old Andrew Buthorn.
On April 10, charges were certified against Christopher Gattis for murders of his wife, 58-year-old Jeanett Gattis, and step-daughter, 30-year-old Candice Kunze.
Officials say all three victims were shot in the back.
Gattis is currently being held at Riverside Regional Jail for the triple-murder and was denied bond at his first court appearance.
Police responded to the 1400 block of Dogwood Ridge Court off Harrowgate Road around 11:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving.
911 recordings described a horrific scene:
"I have one detained; be advised he shot three people ... I got one male subject on the ground. He's got two gunshots to the stomach ... Sir, we have two females down in the kitchen."
When officers arrived, they found Buthorn's body in the front yard. Inside, Jeanett Gattis and Kunze were also found dead.
Jeanett Gattis worked at Napier Realtors in accounting for 15 years.
"She was a wonderful employee. She had been with us over 15 years, very dedicated. It's just tragic beyond words really. I don't really know what to say. And she was wonderful lady. I'm shocked," said Jim Napier.
The suspect, Christopher Gattis, is a youth pastor at Grace Lutheran Church.
Grace Lutheran Church leaders have denied all media inquiries until further notice to let church-goers grieve.
However, the church released the following statement:
Members of Grace Lutheran Church are deeply saddened by the loss of life last night as a result of three individuals being shot in Chester and this tragedy included members of Grace Lutheran Church. Grace Lutheran Church has experienced many hardships over the years, but this heartbreak has unique challenges. Grace Lutheran Church asks for the prayers from the community as our congregation begins the process of addressing the grief being experienced by everyone involved.
The day after the shooting, neighbors were trying to grasp what happened.
"It's just tragic, and I'm shocked. I don't even know what to say," said Larry Patton. "All the blue lights down the street all night long, I'm still awake. I couldn't sleep."
Friends have set up a GoFundMe page to help the victims' family.
Patton says his mind was focused on the family he knows inside.
"They're just the type of people who would do anything for you," he said.
Patton says a husband and wife, their daughter and her boyfriend were living in the home.
"They welcomed us when we were moving in," he said. "We went over had a couple glasses of wine."
Patton says the crime doesn't make sense and still has a lot of questions.
Gattis' trial will be Nov. 7-9 in Chesterfield Circuit Court.
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