Man shocked after deputies say friend was shot by uncle

By Kim Leoffler, Reporter
Last Updated: Sunday, December 31, 2017, 1:35 PM EST

We’re learning more about the man who deputies say shot and killed his nephew and injured his niece in Polk County Saturday night before taking his own life. Family friends say they had no idea a conflict was going on.

“I’m at a loss for words. I have no idea how to understand what happened,” Marc Gunderson said.

Marc said Sunday he and his good friend James Hanks, who he called Jimmy, were supposed to be preparing for an annual New Year’s Eve party Jimmy had at his house in Polk City each year.

“I was absolutely shocked. To be honest I didn’t hear anything until early this morning and I couldn’t actually even believe it,” Marc explained.

Deputies say Jimmy was shot and killed by his uncle Saturday night. His Uncle, Rickie Stipe, and Rickie's wife Carolyn live in Kentucky and were visiting Jimmy and his wife for the holidays.

Carolyn told deputies she and Rickie were arguing when they got home from dinner Saturday. When Jimmy tried to break up the argument, Rickie shot Jimmy. When Kathleen went to help Jimmy, Rickie shot Kathleen.

"As described by the shooter's wife he stared at her before shooting himself,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.  

Carolyn told deputies Rickie had been diagnosed with schizophrenia over 10 years ago but refused to take medication.

Kathleen was sent to Lakeland Regional Health for a gunshot wound and Carolyn for chest pains.

It’s something Marc said he didn’t see coming.

“I had met the man multiple times. There were no conflicts that I’m aware of what so ever,” Marc explained.

And while emotions are still very raw, Marc hopes Jimmy will be remembered for the good he did throughout his life.

“Jimmy would give you the shirt off his back. He’d go out of his way to help you. The world has lost a very good man,” Marc said.

The Sheriff's Office said Kathleen is stable. Lakeland Regional confirmed that Carolyn has been discharged.