Virginia youth pastor accused of murdering his family on Thanksgiving
Officers have arrested youth pastor Chris Gattis after they found two women and a man shot to death at a home in Chester, Virginia.
According to WTVR News, police reported the “victims were identified as 58-year-old Jeanett L. Gattis, 30-year-old Candice L. Kunze and 36-year-old Andrew E. Buthorn.”
Police told the local news outlet that all of the victims lived in the home with the suspect and the incident appears to be a domestic problem.
“Jeanett Gattis is the wife of Christopher Gattis. Buthorn is the boyfriend of Kunze, who is the daughter of Jeanett Gattis,” said Sgt. P.H. Zoffuto with Chesterfield Police said in a statement.
A neighbor told WTVR that the residents on the block are a “close-knit” group and they knew the family killed. Another neighbor said that he heard a gunshot in on Thanksgiving night but by the time he went outside police were already on the scene. He said that he then saw the body of one man and the youth pastor in handcuffs.
“We were all friends,” said neighbor Mike Brown. “We hang out sometimes [and] cook out in the back. I mean every time I see them, they’re always the same way. [I] had no clue that they were having problems that I knew of, but behind closed doors is behind closed doors.”
The alleged shooter was a Grace Lutheran Church youth pastor for the middle and high school kids. A deacon told local news outlets that he was in disbelief. He described Gattis as an “excellent man.”
“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,” the church said in a statement Friday. “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.”
Gattis is being held in the Chesterfield County Jail, and is charged with “three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of a use of a firearm in the commission of a felony,” WTVR reported.