It was a Thursday night. I just put my kids to bed. I got a phone call first from my grandma that I missed, then another right after. I knew in my gut something was wrong. I answered. She was destroyed, telling me Uncle Gary has been shot. She was frantically trying to reach my dad, who was on a plane to celebrate my little brother’s birthday. I then got a voicemail from my Aunt Tracy, frantically telling me the same thing. I still can hear the screams and crying in my grandma and aunt’s voice. I called my mom and dad as many times as I could to try to tell them the news. I finally got in touch with my mom the moment they landed. I’ll never forget this day. I had to tell my mother what had happened. I then had to tell my three little brothers that our uncle was shot in the head. This was the day my family was destroyed and changed forever.

My dad is a tough guy, but I have never seen something change someone so fast. My dad lost his best friend, his brother, and due to that, I lost my dad for a while. I saw my Aunt Tracy have to face the toughest days ahead and have to make the hardest decisions. I saw my grandparents struggle to cope emotionally. I saw my brothers sad and not understanding how something like this could happen. I’ve seen my mom have to be my dad’s punching bag emotionally and having to stay strong. I’ve seen my kids grow up without the Uncle Gary that I was blessed to have as a child. I lost my godfather, my uncle, my friend. I remember thinking: this doesn’t happen in real life, only in movies. I still can’t wrap my head around all of this to this day. Our family will never be the same from losing our Uncle Gary.

When I found out that I could write something like this, I thought I could sit here and write something clear that everyone could understand. But to be honest, I don’t think anyone will be able to understand what our family went through. No one knows how close my dad and Uncle Gary was. No one saw the horror in my dad’s face. No one sees the nightmares I have of him getting shot. No one sees my brothers crying and me trying to comfort them. No one sees my 4-year-old twins asking who Uncle Gary was, seeing their grandpa so sad. No one sees their fun-loving aunt trying to stay so strong. No one sees my grandparents just trying to get through the day without thinking of what happened to their son. I hope that no one here in this court ever has to go through this. I want to thank the court for allowing me to write this. I wish I was here to read it out loud myself. I’m forever grateful for the time I got to spend with my uncle, but for God’s sake, it wasn’t enough time.

Gary Gaudette’s niece