“If you needed it, he would help.”
Generous, empathic and caring those are the words friends and family use to describe Rex Gill, the Summerland resident who was shot outside of a Kamloops motel on Jan. 23.
Gill, 41, was known by those closest to him as a family man, avid fisher and hunter as well as a hard worker. Sherri Lou, Gill’s wife, said he would give anything he could to help others, painting a very different portrait of her husband, who was, for a time after his murder, thought to be possibly involved in the Kamloops drug trade.
“To all the people that put him in the dirty biker drug trade category, he would have helped them too if they needed it,” Sherri Lou said in a statement to the Western News. “They should all be ashamed of themselves for being so judgemental to someone they never even knew, all because he rode a bike and wore a vest.”
RCMP at first suspected Gill may have been involved in organized crime as another man, Cody Marcel Mathieu, 33, was shot outside of the Super 8 Motel the same morning Gill was attacked. Mathieu was previously known to Kamloops RCMP for his involvement in the drug trade, so the deaths were thought to be linked.
On Feb. 19, the RCMP clarified that they are now investigating the possibility that Gill’s death was a case of mistaken identity. Unfortunately, Lou said the damage has already been done in terms of tarnishing her late husband’s reputation.
“Once drugs are involved, no one seems to care about the person and, especially in my husband’s case, the horrible things stated by the public because of the articles were damaging to my kids,” said Lou.
The witness to Gill’s death, who wishes to remain anonymous for privacy and safety concerns, told Western News that he knew from the beginning that his friend’s death was not related to drugs.
“It was definitely a case of mistaken identity – he had nothing to do with the drug trade anywhere and let alone in Kamloops,” said the witness. “It’s bothered me that the cops say the public have no fear of being in danger because we’re just the public. But we had nothing to do with it and one of us is dead because of it. The public does have something to fear, because otherwise, we’d be fine.”
Lou hopes to set the record straight about who Gill truly was, rather than the image painted of him by media and the RCMP.
“(Rex) was one of a kind in so many ways. He always knew what to say or do to lighten the mood and, most of the time, all it took was a smile from him or wrapping you up in one of his gentle hugs that would make the world disappear,” wrote Lou.
“Rex would have done anything for anyone and not have thought twice, even if it was giving you our last $10 or the socks off his feet. If you needed it, he would help.”
Lou said Gill previously worked “up north for months on end” to support his family, only seeing them when he was home for a week between shifts. He took a side job when the oilfield crashed, which is why he was in Kamloops the day he was shot, so that he could still make ends meet and be there for his family.
“He was a proud dad and always wanted to be able to do more for his kids. His kids were number one. He was working hard now so he could play later,” said Lou. “If I use Rex’s own words to describe him it would be ‘absolutely STELLAR!’ He was an amazing husband, dad, brother, son, uncle and friend and will be greatly missed everyday.”
The Special Crimes Unit in Kamloops is currently investigating both Gill’s and Mathieu’s homicides and have identified suspects. No arrests have been made at this time.
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