Va. Youth Pastor Charged With Triple Homicide Previously Convicted of Assault
A youth pastor for a Virginia church who was recently charged with a triple homicide had previously been convicted of a misdemeanor assault in 2012.
Christopher Gattis, a 58-year-old youth pastor with Grace Lutheran Church of Chester, was charged on Monday with the shooting deaths of his wife Jeanett Gattis, 58; her daughter Candice Kunze, 30; and Andrew Buthorn, 36, Kunze's boyfriend.
In 2012, about two years before Gattis officially began working for Grace Lutheran, Gattis was convicted of misdemeanor assault, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
"Gattis was convicted of a misdemeanor assault charge in General District Court, but upon appeal to Circuit Court the case was dismissed after he agreed to pay the man he assaulted, according to court records," reported the Times-Dispatch.
"Kevin DeFord, who said he was delivering the Chesterfield Observer with his 19-year-old son on Sept. 5, 2012, said his son had thrown the paper onto Gattis' driveway and continued along Dogwood Ridge Court, which ends in a cul-de-sac. As DeFord circled back past Gattis' home, he had an encounter with Gattis in the middle of the street."
The Times-Dispatch noted that Gattis "later apologized and paid DeFord less than $1,000 for his aggravation" and that Gattis had earlier "paid a $25 fine for a misdemeanor charge of public intoxication, and the charge was waived."
Gattis was charged on Monday in the triple homicide of his wife, daughter, and his daughter's boyfriend, allegedly murdering them on Thanksgiving evening.
Neighbors of the charged pastor were surprised by the news, explaining to various local media outlets that the Gattis family were "good people" and that Mr. Gattis in particular was "always quick to laugh" and would "do anything for you."
"I mean every time I see them, they're always the same way," explained one local to CBS. "[I] had no clue that they were having problems that I knew of, but behind closed doors is behind closed doors."
Before the Chesterfield General District Court on Monday morning, Gattis was denied bond and given a court-appointed defense attorney.
For their part, Grace Lutheran has stated that they are "deeply saddened by the loss of life" and that they have suspended Gattis without pay "effective immediately as a result of the legal proceedings on November 27, 2017."
"Grace Lutheran Church has experienced many hardships over the years, but this heartbreak has unique challenges," stated the church.
"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."