“Generous,” “empathic” and “caring” are the words friends and family use to describe Rex Gill, the Summerland resident who was shot outside of a Kamloops hotel 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.
“If you needed it, he would help,” she said in a statement to the Penticton Western News. “To all the people that put him in the dirty biker drug trade category, he would have helped them, too, if they needed it. They should all be ashamed of themselves for being so judgmental to someone they never even knew, all because he rode a bike and wore a vest.”
Kamloops Mounties 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 in Valleyview the same morning Gill was shot and killed outside the Comfort Inn and Suites in Aberdeen.
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, Mounties said 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,” she said.
A friend of Gill’s — who was standing next to Gill when he was shot outside the hotel — said 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He had nothing to do with the drug trade anywhere and let alone in Kamloops,” said the friend, who asked that his name not be published. “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 some may have following his death.
“He 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,” Lou said.
“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. She said he took a side job when the oilfield job market 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,” Lou said. “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 every day.”
While Kamloops Mounties say they have suspects in the shooting deaths of Gill and Mathieu, no arrests have yet been made.