CUMBERLAND COUNTY, N.C. — The girlfriend of the the youngest victim in the Cumberland County double murder-suicide Tuesday spoke to WTVD saying she believes the shooter was after her.
Skyler Cantwell, 15, was the girlfriend of Zachary Phillips, 14, who died along with his mother, Diana Hathaway. They were shot when they pulled into the driveway of Skyler’s house.
The shooter, who shot himself, was known by the family as Jeff Allen. His real name is Gerald Patrick Marr, authorities say.
Hathaway, 31, and her children met Marr at the Hollandale Advent Christian Church in Spring Lake. Marr had been attending there for a couple of years, but had not joined the church and did not serve in any official capacity, according to members.
They said they didn’t know he was 22 years old, yet he had participated in youth activities.
According to close family friends, Hathaway allowed Zachary to live with Marr for the summer, while she got through a domestic abuse case involving her ex-husband.
But when Marr went on a shooting rampage in Skyler’s driveway, she was sure he was there to see her. Family members said Marr was trying to keep Zachary away from Skyler.
The shootings killed Zachary, his mother and injured his sister, Kelsey. Kelsey’s boyfriend was also in the van, but he was not injured.
“It was a controlling thing, like I was taking Zach away from him or something like that,” she said. “So he just wanted me out of the picture, I guess.”
Skyler said she didn’t think Marr knew the family was coming, and she believes he was coming to shoot her.
Zachary was shot in the driveway. His mother was killed in the van, and Kelsey was shot in the back seat. Her boyfriend, 17-year-old Billy Setzer, shielded the girl from the bullets. She is recovering from nerve damage to her arm.
“He was perfect,” Skyler said, recalling Zachary. “He was honestly the best boyfriend I’ve ever had.”