Youth pastor charged with murdering family on Thanksgiving

Christopher Gattis (Courtesy: WCMH)

CHESTER, Va. (WCMH) —  A community in Virginia is reeling after a youth minister was arrested on murder charges after his family was killed on Thanksgiving.

Police say Christopher Gattis, 58, shot and killed his wife Jeanette, 58; his stepdaughter Candice Kunze, 30; and his stepdaughter’s boyfriend Andrew Buthorn, 36. The three victims and Gattis all shared a home in Chester. Investigators believe the shooting stemmed from a domestic incident.

Neighbors reported hearing gunshots around 11:30 p.m. Thursday.

“My wife heard a strange noise here,” Mike Brown told WTVR. “She was like ‘What is that noise?’ Then it was a gunshot, ‘Pow!’”

Police say Gattis turned himself in without incident.

Brown is stunned by the tragedy and said Gattis was a friend and never thought he would be capable of doing something like this.

“We were all friends. We hang out sometimes [and] cook out in the back,” Brown said. “He was always a gentle guy.”

The deacon at Grace Lutheran Church said Gattis was a full-time youth pastor and described him as an excellent man, saying this tragedy has left the community heartbroken. The church released a statement, which reads:

Members of the 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 experience by everyone involved.”