WILDWOOD (KMOV) – It’s been nearly two months and the reality still has not set in for Leigha Gaston.
“It’s such a surprise each time to remember that this is real,” she said.
Her cousin, 40-year-old Jason Skiles, was like a brother to her. He loved cars, was a bit of a daredevil and fiercely loved his family.
“We grew up really close. He lived with us as teenagers, so we shared our first car together,” said Gaston. “He protected his children fiercely. He protected his fiancé. He protected anybody who is connected with him that he cared for. I always knew if I needed someone that I would call Jason.”
Skiles was killed on April 19 outside of Larry’s Tavern in Wildwood by a man that then shot and killed himself. Gaston says Skiles was visiting the bar for the first time with his fiancé to celebrate their anniversary when the shooting happened.
“When we got the call at midnight, I just froze. When I heard her voice, I knew something had happened,” said Gaston. “It’s shattering. Completely shattering.”
While the bar owners and family have declined to share surveillance video from the night of Skiles’ death, those who have watched it or were there that night are still puzzled by what happened.
“This other person just came in randomly. He’d only ever been there once before. [He] sat down, [and] had a few drinks with Jay. They were feeding each other off of the same plate, and he was sharing of course, like he always does, his food with this guy. They were laughing together. There are selfies on Jason’s phone of him and this man,” said Gaston. “And just no warning. Just no warning. We have no idea what happened.”
Gaston says not knowing why Skiles was shot and killed has made it especially hard on Skiles’s two children, 12-year-old Noah and 18-year-old Alisha.
“It just leaves a really big empty hole, not that an explanation would help, but I don’t think we’ll ever know,” she said. “He left behind also, four, I would call them bonus children. His fiancé’s kiddos. And they’re all young. They’re all 12, 14 and under.”
However, Gaston’s family says they hope they can bring some peace through the hardship by hosting a car show and benefit night with all the proceeds going towards helping Skiles’ children.
The car show and benefit night will be taking place this Saturday, June 18 from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Rocking J Venue in High Ridge. Gaston says there will be food, raffles, music and other events for all ages.
“We’re hoping that we can remember him through like a big party, because that’s exactly what he would want,” said Gaston.
There is also a GoFundMe supporting Skiles and his family.
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Family honors father of 6 killed in Wildwood murder-suicide in April