Shooting kills one

Alcohol plays part in violence spurred by domestic dispute

By Brent D. Wistrom

Times Record News
July 24, 2004

He was sipping whiskey and hoping for a less violent world hours before police and witnesses say he shot another man in the gut with a shotgun in a dispute over a woman.

Derek Earnest Austin already has a criminal record that belies his peaceful hopes and Friday morning, the 44-year-old Wichita Falls man was charged with murder – again. This time he was charged in the shooting of Kevin Scott Gustafson, a 34-year-old homeless man.

An eyewitness to the shooting said Gustafson’s last words were, “I’m a goner.” And that witness, DeAnna Allnutt-Payne, paints a picture leading to the shooting that’s tinged with violence and alcohol.

“We (Allnutt-Payne and Austin) were down there drinking a bottle of whiskey, talking about how there should be less violence. You know, terrorism and that sort of stuff.” she said, standing outside the fluttering crime tape surrounding the home she rents at 3109 Colquitt St.

She and Gustafson had been fighting on Monday and Tuesday, court records indicate. The police came on those nights, once to stand by while Gustafson gathered his things and left and again the next day when he returned and pleaded to get back into the house.

The 40-year-old woman says she didn’t have a romantic relationship with either man, although a court affidavit says she had a sexual relationship with both of them. She said she is friends with Austin and took Gustafson into her home. He had been living out of a sleeping bag under a bridge, she and others said.

But he was getting violent with her. Allnutt-Payne’s friends said he “wanted to be her boyfriend.”

Allnutt-Payne said she told Gustafson he had to leave her house by midnight Friday and Austin had been to the house to “calmly” ask Gustafson to leave her alone and to stop hitting on her.

She said she thought it would be the same Friday morning when she called Austin after Gustafson charged at her. But it was not.

After drinking whiskey at Austin’s house, about a block down Colquitt Street from her home, the night wore thin. She walked home, she said, and found Gustafson waiting. He had also been drinking all night, one person at the scene said.

“He was sitting in the dark on the couch,” Allnut-Payne said.

“He jumped up and started coming at me, bulldozing,” she said, broadening her shoulders.

Allnutt-Payne felt alone in a full house – her 19-year-old daughter and some of her friends were asleep in the bedrooms.

Gustafson charged, Allnutt-Payne said. She ran and grabbed the phone and called Austin for help, knowing he was still up and thinking that police would be there soon enough.

Everything was “a blur” after Austin arrived, she said.

“He (Austin) said ‘put the knife down, put the knife down, put the knife down!’ ” she said. “And then – Boom!”

“I didn’t know that he had a gun.”

“It’s all so fuzzy right now,” she said. “I thought it would be more of a man-on-man thing. I’m from the old days when they’d punch each other out.”

After the shot, Gustafson dropped to the floor.

“He said, ‘I’m a goner,’ and then he died,” she said.

He was pronounced dead at a hospital, Lt. Richard Garza said. There was no mention of a knife in the affidavit used to charge Austin.

Austin, who has fled from police before, was waiting when they arrived this time. He surrendered and was later charged with murder. His bond was set at $250,000 and he was being held in the Wichita County Jail.

Gustafson’s police record is dotted with thefts, but he does not have a violent history with police.

His most recent encounter with the law was months ago when he was barred from the Hillside trailer park on Ninth Street where he had apparently been staying. On the report, Gustafson’s address was listed as “Anywhere, U.S.A.” a designation often used for the homeless, Sgt. Cindy Walker said. A Salvation Army worker said the name sounded familiar, but he could not pull records.

Austin’s history is rougher.

He was indicted in 2001 for murder after allegedly hitting a 44-year-old man in the head with a 4-foot hickory walking stick in 1996. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years for criminally negligent homicide.

Inside the courthouse, Austin stood nervously patting his stomach among about a dozen others as the justice of the peace read his rights. He got sick to his stomach and was escorted out of the room by a guard.

Brent D. Wistrom can be reached at (940) 763-7554, 1-800-627-1646 Ext. 554, or by e-mail at wistromb(at)TimesRecordNews.com.