***WARNING: This story contains graphic content not suitable for all readers***
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Travis Gilbert died in his father’s arms after he told his father “I love you.”
The 28-year-old was shot and killed by armed intruders Friday morning around 1:20 a.m. The pair entered the home in the 2000 block of St. Marys Avenue, armed with guns, wearing black, helmets, masks and gloves, Steve Gilbert, Travis’ father, said.
“One had a gun to my son’s head and threatened to kill him,” Gilbert said, sitting in his car outside the home Friday afternoon, only hours after he lost his son.
The intruders demanded $500 and Travis replied, “You said $300.” Travis told his father he never took any money from the intruder but they had previously made a deal.
“The guy got so mad, he hit him in the head as hard as he could with a gun and knocked him to the ground. You could hear his head from the gun,” Gilbert told WANE 15. The gun then fell to the ground.
Gilbert said there was a race for the gun and he believed it was life or death because the intruder warned he was going to kill them all.
“I had no choice but to go for the gun to gain control of it. So he was coming at me and I knew if he got it before I got it, we was all going to be dead.”
The second intruder pulled out a gun and there was a gunfire exchange. Gilbert, who suffers from severe COPD, estimated 18 to 20 rounds were fired.
Gilbert was shot in the leg during the gunfire. Travis and Gilbert’s wife, Melinda, who was also in the home at the time, were spared. The intruders were chased out the back door by Gilbert, then tragedy happened.
Travis, unconscious during the exchange, came to and headed in the direction of the back door.
Travis “freaks out and runs out the door, not knowing what was going on because he’s been hit so hard. That’s when they shot him in the chest,” said Gilbert.
Travis came back into the house. His father said, “Travis, you’ve been shot.” Travis said “No I’m not, no I’m not,” and beat his chest. But when he lifted his shirt Gilbert saw a lot of blood.
Within a couple of minutes, trying to call the ambulance, Travis said “Dad, I’m dying.”
Gilbert recalled Travis saying “I love you. Tell everybody I love them,” just before dying in Gilbert’s arms.
Through tears, Gilbert talked about his loss. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to come back into my house.”
“Travis had some problems,” Gilbert said, “but he was a good kid. He would never hurt no one. They didn’t have to take his life. I would have gave them what they wanted.”
Gilbert described one intruder as short and appeared to be a woman and the other was tall. He got the impression they were in their 20s.
“Travis was a fun-loving guy and always had a way of making people laugh. He had a big heart and cared about the people he was close to,” including his 5-year-old daughter. “He was trying to straighten (these problems) out,” Gilbert said.
He worked alongside his father in a Fiberglas company and then on his father’s food truck.
Gilbert said he and the rest of the family want these people held accountable.
If you have any information about the shooting you’re asked to call the police. Or, you can submit a tip anonymously on the Greater Fort Wayne Crime Stoppers P3 app. The shooting remains under investigation.