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Police say love triangle led to California murder-suicide involving model plane enthusiasts
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) ' Police say a man caught up in a love triangle shot himself to death after killing the treasurer of a remote-controlled airplane club who was allegedly having an affair with his the estranged wife.
Before turning the gun on himself, 73-year-old Robert Gully chased the woman from a parking lot into the lobby of a building where the club was meeting, firing several times but missing, Sacramento police Sgt. Andrew Pettit said Wednesday.
"I was shocked when I knew the suspect was in his 70s and the victim was in his 60s," Pettit said.
Police said Gully and 62-year-old Jerome Votaw of Sacramento were both romantically involved with the 49-year-old woman, whose name was not released.
The woman was married to Gully, and both also were members of the club, but they were separated. Pettit did not know if she was living with Votaw.
"They were definitely in a relationship," he said. "As far as living together, I can't confirm that."
A person who answered the telephone at Votaw's home said the woman who lived there wasn't taking any calls.
Gully got into an argument Tuesday with Votaw and the woman in the parking lot, drew a gun and shot Votaw multiple times before trying to shoot the woman, Pettit said. He kept firing as the woman ran to the lobby, with bullets shattering a large glass door.
"It appears that it wasn't random, it wasn't just something he came upon," Pettit said when asked if the shooting was spontaneous.
A security guard was in the lobby, and about a half-dozen airplane modelers club members were in a conference room and came into the lobby after the shooting took place.
Pettit credited the club's president with calming Gully down and walking him back outside the building.
"From what I understand, he did a fantastic job. He was in there taking a lead on this and directing people what to do in that situation," Pettit said.
Police, however, heard Gully shoot and kill himself as they arrived.
"It could have been a lot worse, especially with the people in there if he started shooting innocent bystanders," Pettit said. "We believe those two were his intended targets."
The club's website identifies the president as John Bigwood, who declined comment when reached by telephone.
Gully. a resident of West Sacramento, and Votaw were both part of the 200-member Sacramento Area Modelers club, which bills itself on its website as offering one of the premier flying sites on the West Coast. Its facility southeast of Sacramento features a pit area and runway, snack bar and clubhouse made from a converted semi-trailer.
Vice President J.R. Schiager and the club's secretary, Bob Calvert, said they did not want to discuss the attack.
"I think what's been reported is pretty accurate," Calvert said.
Members of the club fly large, radio-controlled model airplanes and meet monthly at the headquarters of the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District, a large, customer-owned electric company.
Members were seen Wednesday retrieving their model aircraft from the building.
The utility is looking into its policy on permitting private groups to use its facilities, Utility district spokeswoman Dace Udris said. No employees were involved in the incident, she said.