Neighbor: Man in wrong-turn shooting disliked trespassers

Apr 18, 2023, 3:36 PM

This image released by the Washington County, N.Y., Sheriff, shows Kevin Monahan, 65, who was arres...

This image released by the Washington County, N.Y., Sheriff, shows Kevin Monahan, 65, who was arrested on a second-degree murder charge. Kaylin Gillis, 20, was traveling through the rural town of Hebron, N.Y., with three other people Saturday night, April 15, 2023, when the group made a wrong turn onto Monahan's property, who came out onto his porch and fired two shots. One round hit and killed Gillis, according to Washington County Sheriff Jeffrey Murphy. (Washington County NY Sheriff via AP)

(Washington County NY Sheriff via AP)

When Kaylin Gillis and her friends took a wrong turn into an upstate New York driveway last weekend, they couldn’t have known the property was owned by a man who, according to a neighbor, had grown increasingly bitter over the years at people driving onto his land by mistake.

This time, the error proved fatal. The Hebron landowner, Kevin Monahan, opened fire Saturday night, killing 20-year-old Gillis as she and her friends drove away after turning around in the long dirt driveway, Washington County Sheriff Jeffrey Murphy said.

Monahan, 65, was arrested on a second-degree murder charge and remains detained pending a bond hearing.

One of his neighbors, Adam Matthews, who runs an auto repair shop in nearby Salem, said Monahan had become more and more upset in recent years at people making wrong turns into his driveway.

“I’m just a bit overwhelmed,” Matthews said in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday after speaking to other news outlets. “It is a tragic event.”

Murphy said Gillis and her friends got lost while going to another friend’s nearby house. They were driving two cars and a motorcycle when they turned into Monahan’s driveway. As they realized the mistake and turned around, Monahan fired two gunshots at them as they drove away, Murphy said.

One of the bullets struck the rear of the car Gillis was in and hit her, causing a fatal injury, Murphy said.

Gillis’ father, Andrew Gillis, said in a Facebook post Tuesday that his family is devastated.

“Kaylin was a kind, beautiful soul and a ray of light to anyone who was lucky enough to know her,” the post said. “She was just beginning to find her way in the world with kindness, humor, and love. … She was taken from us far too soon.”

Andrew Gillis wrote that his daughter was an honors student and talented artist who was looking forward to attending college in Florida with dreams of becoming a marine biologist.

“Our family will never be the same but we will be guided by Kaylin’s positivity, optimism, and joy as we learn to live with her loss,” he wrote.

Monahan’s lawyer, meanwhile, spoke publicly for the first time Tuesday, calling the sheriff’s version of the events a “superficial, simplistic” account of what actually happened.

The attorney, Kurt Mausert, declined to discuss details of the shooting, citing the pending criminal case.

“I believe we have series of mistakes that led to a tragedy,” he said in a phone interview. “But I don’t believe my client is a villain. But not every case with a tragedy has a villain, and I think this is one of them.”

The sheriff described Monahan as uncooperative, saying he initially refused to come out of the house before peacefully surrendering after about an hour.

Mausert disputed there was any standoff, saying he was on the phone with his client as law enforcement officers were at Monahan’s door. He said Monahan was talking to police outside his door and officials would not say why they were there and did not have an arrest warrant. The lawyer said Monahan was exercising his right to remain silent when he declined to talk to police about what happened.

When police officials told the lawyer over the phone that someone had died, Mausert said he helped arrange the peaceful surrender.

“They told me there was a fatality, then it started to make sense to me,” he said. “At that point, it’s dangerous for everybody. My goal at that point was to facilitate my client turning himself in to the police safely.”

As Gillis’ family mourned Tuesday, officials at the school system she attended held a news conference to express their sadness about her death. Gillis graduated in 2021 from Schuylerville High School, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Monahan’s home in Hebron. Her two younger sisters are in grades seven and nine in Schuylerville.

“We have very very close-knit community,” said Katie Elsworth, the middle school principal. “And we say to them upon graduation that we will always be your school family. We will always be here to support you and take care of you and love you. And when something happens to one of students who graduated, it hurts our hearts just as much as when they’re here.”

Schuylerville High School Principal James Ducharme said Gillis had an infectious smile.

“Her smile would light up a room,” he said. “Her personality would light up any classroom that she walked into or any club activity that she participated in.”

School officials said Gillis was on the competition cheerleading team in high school for two seasons, took part in Future Farmers of America programs and was an avid artist.

A celebration of Gillis’ life was scheduled for Friday in Schuylerville.

National News

FILE - Smoke rises over Khartoum, Sudan, Thursday, June 8, 2023, as fighting between the Sudanese a...

Associated Press

US announces $203 million in new aid to war-torn Sudan amid major humanitarian crisis

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations announced nearly $203 million in additional humanitarian assistance to Sudan on Thursday but warned that the money is not a “panacea” and urged other countries to fulfill their financial pledges to address what she called “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.” World leaders pledged more […]

36 minutes ago

Associated Press

Virginia lawmakers repeal restrictions on popular tuition waiver program for military families

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia lawmakers gave final approval Thursday to legislation that will repeal new restrictions on a tuition waiver program for military families. The House of Delegates and state Senate each voted unanimously to fully restore the Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program, which offers free college tuition at state schools for […]

1 hour ago

North Carolina State University Chancellor Randy Woodson listens during a meeting of the N.C. State...

Associated Press

NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson announces his retirement after nearly 15 years in the role

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Another chancellor in North Carolina’s public university system has announced plans to step down — this time at the state’s largest university by enrollment. North Carolina State University Chancellor Randy Woodson declared his retirement plans at the university’s trustees meeting Thursday, capping off nearly 15 years in his role. His term […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Kansas won’t force providers to ask patients why they want abortions while a lawsuit proceeds

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas isn’t enforcing a new law requiring abortion providers to ask patients why they want to terminate their pregnancies, as a legal challenge against that rule and other older requirements makes its way through the courts. Attorneys for the state and for providers challenging the new law along with other requirements […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Salman Rushdie’s alleged assailant won’t see author’s private notes before trial

MAYVILLE, N.Y. (AP) — Author Salman Rushdie does not have to turn over private notes about his stabbing to the man charged with attacking him, a judge ruled Thursday, rejecting the alleged assailant’s contention that he is entitled to the material as he prepares for trial. Hadi Matar’s lawyers in February subpoenaed Rushdie and publisher […]

2 hours ago

FILE - Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, R-Ark., speaking during the Republican National Convention Tues...

Associated Press

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders announces trade mission to Europe

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday said she’s traveling to Europe for her second trade mission there as governor, which will include a visit to an air show in the United Kingdom. The Republican governor announced she’s traveling to the Farnborough Air Show, which begins July 22, to pitch […]

2 hours ago

Neighbor: Man in wrong-turn shooting disliked trespassers