Pastor Christopher Gattis, 58, has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder in addition to three counts of use of firearms in the commission of a felony. The charges came as a result of a shooting attributed to him that resulted in the deaths of Gattis’s wife, her daughter, and the daughter’s boyfriend at their Virginia home on Thanksgiving evening. Police said that the victims were Jeanett Gattis, 58, her daughter, 30-year-old Candice Kunze, and Kunze’s boyfriend, 36-year-old Andrew Buthorn. Gattis may face the death penalty.

Suspect Gattis is a youth pastor at Grace Lutheran Church.

A recording of an officer who called headquarters conveyed some of the horror at the 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.” Police found the bodies of the two women inside the home, while the male was found dead in the front yard. Gattis is being held without bond at the Chesterfield County jail in Virginia.

Gattis appeared at the Chesterfield General District Court on Monday, where the judge bond and appointed an attorney for Gattis’s defense. Police responded to the home on Thanksgiving after receiving an alarm call. It is believed that Andrew Buthorn tripped the alarm while fleeing the home after being shot. In the tight-knit community, there are rumors that there had been several disagreements in the home over the last few weeks.

"Grace Lutheran Church has experienced many hardships over the years, but this heartbreak has unique challenges," said a spokesperson for Grace Lutheran Church, which asked for prayers while the congregation begins to address “the grief being experienced by everyone involved."

Gattis and his wife graduated Colonial Heights High School in 1977. They reunited years later at a high school reunion. Christopher Gattis has been described by associates as quiet, while his deceased wife, Jeanett, has been described as outgoing. 

Chesterfield Court documents reveal Gattis was charged with assault and battery back in September of 2012. Gattis allegedly brandished a box cutter after striking a newspaper delivery man. Gattis later sought to excuse his behavior by claiming that he had received test results from a physician that had put him on edge. Gattis is due back in court on January 30.

Funeral services for Jeanett Gattis and Candice Kunze are expected on December 2. 
 

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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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