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Virginia youth pastor charged with triple homicide of family on Thanksgiving Day

(Pixabay/stevepb)A youth pastor was charged with first-degree murder for shooting three people in his family on Thanksgiving Day.

A youth pastor in Virginia has been charged with first-degree murder for shooting down three people in his family on Thanksgiving Day.

Christopher Gattis, 58, was arrested at his residence in Chester after he shot Jeanett Gattis, 58; her daughter, Candice Kunze, 30; and Andrew Buthorn, 36, who was Kunze's boyfriend.

Chesterfield County Police found the body of Buthorn in the front yard, while the bodies of Jeanett Gattis and Kunze were found inside.

Gattis, who is the youth pastor at Grace Lutheran Church on Harrowgate Road in Chester, has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder and is currently being held at a county jail without bond. In addition to the murder charges, he is also charged with three counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

On Friday evening, Grace Lutheran issued a statement, asking the congregation to pray for everyone involved in the tragedy.

"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 statement read, as reported by Richmond Times-Dispatch.

"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," it continued.

A deacon confirmed Gattis' role as a full-time youth pastor at Grace Lutheran and said that he is in disbelief, as he knew suspect to be an "excellent man" and a "gentle guy."

Neighbors recounted that Kunze had moved back home from Oregon with her boyfriend Buthorn about six weeks ago.

Other Chester residents noted that the block is close-knit, and many of them knew the suspect as well as the victims.

"We were all friends. We hang out sometimes [and] cook out in the back," neighbor Mike Brown told CBS affiliate WTVR. "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," he went on to say.

Larry Patton, who lives across from the Gattises' gray, two-story home, said that he had not heard or seen any disagreements among the family that night, or even before.

Police said that the incident, which occurred shortly before 11:30 p.m. on Thursday, appeared to be domestic in nature, but an investigation is still ongoing.

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