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If you’re in Amarillo, the weekend’s sensational tabloid-esque story du jour was all about the murder of “troubled” real estate developer Paul Gillette’s wife Sherri, at the hands of Gillette himself. First reports trickling out had Gillette shooting his wife, possibly in front of his kids, and police discovering her body as the kids tried to revive her, with Gillette sitting nearby, waiting for the cops. Some of this is inaccurate, according to revised reports in the local rags.

This, of course, is the problem with news. When deadlines loom, rumor can pass as hard news.

The latest info out there (which in and of itself is not guaranteed accurate) is that Sherri Gillette was on the phone with a friend. The call was abruptly disconnected. Said friend, whether by the content or context of the call, suspected that Sherri was being assaulted, presumably by her estranged husband. Said friend immediately called the police.

The police obtained a search warrant (I’m not a cop, but wouldn’t this tip count as probable cause and allow them entry without a warrant?) and entered the family home(s) on the property. Finding no fighting spouses, they broke down the door of the (huge) detached garage and found Sherri in one of their cars.

Paul Gillette was nearby, again presumably waiting for the cops to arrive. EMS personnel attempted to revive Sherri, but were unable to do so. She was pronounced dead at the scene, and Paul was arrested, arraigned on one million dollars bond, and stuck in the local jail, awaiting a hearing.

News outlets now report that Sherri Gillette was beaten to death.

Putting my personal feelings aside for a bit, let’s think about this in purely clinical terms as it relates to domestic violence and gun issues. I’ll make the following observations:

  • Why did initial reports claim this was a gun crime?
  • Does everybody jump to the conclusion that guns must be involved, if the crime is a domestic abuse situation?
  • Do you feel any better now, knowing the guns weren’t involved?
  • Do you realize that the victim is still dead, and how she died does not affect the final outcome?
  • Did you stop to think that the victim went to the police, but were unable to convince them that her estranged husband represented a danger to her?
  • Do you realize that, even had she obtained a restraining order, restraining orders only work on people that obey the law?
  • Did you stop to think that, perhaps if SHE’d had a gun, the outcome might have been vastly different?

Interestingly, one financial tidbit has come out regarding possible motive, this morning. The Gillettes were in the middle of a contentious divorce. Paul Gillette was embroiled in the aftermath of a civil fraud trial, where he had been ordered/forced to sell several homes in his housing development, in order to satisfy the judgement.

Instead, he opted to file for bankruptcy protection, temporarily halting the sale. But his filings indicate that he would be counting on income derived from profits earned from his insurance agency in order to satisfy his payment plan under reorganization. This is where it gets sticky.

You see, in Texas at least, you can’t be a convicted felon and hold a license to sell insurance. When Gillette was convicted for violating Federal bank regulations, Sherri applied for and received a license to sell insurance, so they would not lose the agency. Paul had to relinquish the agency to someone, and since he either had purchased or was in the process of paying off the purchase of the agency from Sherri’s father, transferring the agency to Sherri made sense.

Apparently, her attorneys presented evidence in court that Sherri was the sole owner of the agency, once Paul was incarcerated. Paul was apparently dragging his feet on finalizing the divorce, because he wanted money from the agency in order to satisfy his bankruptcy payment plan. Sherri resisted. And she evidently paid for it with her life.

Paul Gillette is in jail as I write this. I hope that he never sees another day as a free man. Texas justice, I’m sure, will deal with him appropriately. But the question that interests me within the context of TTAG is this: does it make any difference that this bastard used his fists instead of a gun?

To Sherri, her family and their kids, I doubt it. But to those that would have you believe that eliminating the private ownership of guns would stop domestic violence, I think the answer would be “Yes!”

Keep in mind, as a convicted felon, fresh from a recent stay at a Federal Prison, Gillette could not legally own a gun, much less qualify for a concealed handgun license. So if he HAD used a gun, by default, he would have had to have obtained it illegally. (So much for a change in gun laws helping here.)

Of course, the flip side of the argument does have some merit – had Sherri Gillette armed herself with, say, a .380 pocket pistol, she might have been able to defend herself from Paul’s murderous wrath, thus avoiding her own, tragic fate.

But the anti-gun guys won’t talk about that. Their stock-in-trade line is that gun-free homes will reduce or eliminate domestic violence, because disarming people will automatically turn down the temperature of any argument. (Tell that to Sherri Gillette’s grieving parents and see how it goes over.)

So while you think about guns, self defense, domestic violence, and the sad fate of the Gillette family, ask yourself this question: Do you really think that guns are the problem, the solution, or simply a tool, which like any other tool, can be used for good, or for evil?

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  1. I believe that in large Asian cities (where guns are absent), the preferred instrument of passionate spouse murder is the kitchen cleaver.

  2. Brad, You could not be more right. I am a friend of the family. This is such a tragic thing that has happened. However, I agree with you that if Sherri would have had a gun with her the out come of this would have been very different. The statement that you said in the end about guns being a tool for people. It is not the guns that is the problem it is the evil people behind them.

    Let this be a warning to those who have been abused, or still are dealing with an abusive partner. Guns can be your friend, they can save your life. Go take some classes on the safety of the guns, and how to use them. They could save your life.

    • Brad, Keri–exactly right in the gun dept. Sherri had considered it, why she never went thru with getting one & "learning how to use it in a possible panic situation" (which I think is key for all who carry one for personal protection) we will never know…I'm a firm believer in the right to bear arms! You simply teach yourself & your children about gun safety.

      Guns don't kill people–people do…Reminds me of a sticker my husband has–"If guns kill people, then pencils misspell words" Some may think that's a poor analogy…a fact's a fact! & I can't think of any better one!

  3. I think that trying to advance a political point of view in the context of a crime like this is very low.

    "Keep in mind, as a convicted felon, fresh from a recent stay at a Federal Prison, Gillette could not legally own a gun, much less qualify for a concealed handgun license. So if he HAD used a gun, by default, he would have had to have obtained it illegally. (So much for a change in gun laws helping here.)"

    What in the World do you mean in the paragraph above? If he HAD used a gun? What is your point?

    You and most people reading your blog can go happily sniffing each other's holes, ranting about how 'guns do not kill people' and yada yada yada; I saw, whatever…

    I only read this twisted posting because my wife (who knows the victim's sister) pulled it for me…

    • David:

      If you'd read both posts I made on this tragedy, you'd know then that I knew Sherri Gillette personally. I was a business partner with Paul in an ad agency. My family and I traveled to New Mexico and helped them move into the home that they purchased at that resort on the lake. And you'd know that the first reports that I received (before any news reports hit the 'net) indicated that Sherri's murder had involved a handgun.

      Sorry you don't approve of my post, but I don't see this as a political point of view. Unless you consider "self defense" as a "red" or "blue" issue. I suspect from what you've written that you're on the "anti-gun" side of things. (Note that I use the term "anti-gun" because the term "gun control" politicizes and obfuscates your side. People like Brady, Bloomberg, Daley et all don't want to "control" guns – they want to completely eliminate them.)

      TTAG covers all aspects of guns, including news analysis/editorializing on news stories involving guns. We covered the shooting at the base in Waco, the conceal carry permit holder who stopped a convenience story robbery, and every other gun-related story that pops up on our radar. When initial (albeit erroneous) reports began trickling in that Paul used a gun, I decided to write about it. Frankly, it was a difficult post to write, because I knew Sherri and spent time with their family. My daughter played with their kids. I worked in the same office.

      Cut to the next day, when police released more information, and we learned that Paul had beaten and strangled Sherri. I decided that, rather than take down the initial post or update it, that the best way to handle this situation would be write a second post. In a way, I felt like the second one offered up an opportunity to address a couple of important points, namely "why did everyone seem to jump to the conclusion that a gun was involved, when speaking about domestic violence" and "could this tragedy – or the outcome – have been changed/avoided if Sherri had been armed?" These are topics that are not often discussed in the media, and I believed that they were worth discussing. At no time was I attempting to politicize this tragedy, nor was I attempting to profit from Sherri's death. (Notice the dearth of ads on the site? We don't charge subscription fees. Do you really think we're doing this to make a buck?) A mutual friend told me that he'd found the story posted on Sherri's sister's Facebook page and congratulated me on handling this report with sensitivity. If Sherri's family didn't find what I wrote to be offensive, I hardly think your opinion carries more weight than theirs.

      Domestic violence is the issue here. How it's accomplished is kind of a side issue. The larger point is how to AVOID it, or to change the outcome so that the victims don't lose their lives. If a gun could have saved Sherri's life, then don't you think it would be worth it for her to have one? I once heard some wag say, "I carry a gun, because cops are to heavy to carry around with me." Funny…but true. There's a reason people say "there's never a cop around when you need one." Not their fault. They can't be everywhere, and if they were, we'd all complain about living in a police state. So the question here is "what could have stopped Paul from killing Sherri." Paul outweighed Sherri, and he had years of experience as a wrestler. And as we all now know, he's has no reservations about using violence to make his point. A gun is "Plan A" for most people at a size/weight/strength disadvantage to "level the playing field" as it were. Would you seriously sit there in judgement of me when I discuss the idea that Sherri might have been able to defend herself if she'd had a gun? If so, you're the worst kind of hypocrite – someone who blusters and attempts to use a false sense of moral superiority to deny us all our right to self-defense, in order to advance your own political position.

      Thanks for reading – and offering up your own comment – but if all you've got to say is to point fingers, make baseless accusations, and whine about a site that tries to present all sides of an issue, then I suggest you think things over and perhaps take a second look at your own biases.


  5. As a resident of Falcon Club I can tell you there is a collective feeling of relief and hope that our community is rid of Paul Gillette. Sherri's death is a tragedy and sadly not unforeseen. The neighborhood knew he was a dangerous coward. He would try to intimidate the women in neighbor but would not stand up to any man who challenged him.

    Rest in Peace Sherri

  6. Lets be honest, everybody envied and admired the gillettes family, she was like a movie star and their kids so beautiful… now we know he was a psycho… but everybody enjoyed their parties… for respect of Sherri (rip), kids, sherris family you should stop writing this malicious messsages that affect directly to the kids and the Herring family

    They are not going to tell you anything, because they dont have head to do that right now>>> and they are so educated. and in so much pain right now.

    it is easy to talk after you enjoyed all pleasures that they were able to give as freinds or co-workers…

    Sorry if you feel alluded.

  7. has anyone heard any updates as to where Paul is at and what action has been taken, if any, or when will anything be done with him?

  8. I'd say I'm with Emil – I absolutely love the cold, rainy days! I love the sun but just can't stand the heat :DAnyways, you've been assembling quite a lot of blue/black/white outfits as of lately – not that I'm complaining – but go for some more color! 😀 Great outfit anyways :)Lubna |

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