The Travis County Medical Examiner's Office and Austin Police Department have ruled that after police fired at a man accused of breaking into an internet famous couple's home, his death was caused by a self-inflicted wound.
The Albuquerque man drove 10 hours to Austin, where police said he broke into the home of a famous YouTube couple before officers were dispatched and he was fatally shot.
Police believe that before the fatal shooting, the New Mexico man became obsessed with Meg Turney, an Austinite with nearly 400,000 YouTube subscribers and more than 500,000 Instagram followers. Authorities believe that his obsession for Turney turned into a resentment of Gavin Free, who is also a YouTube star with 10 million subscribers.
At around 3:40 a.m. on Jan. 26, Turney called 9-1-1 to report that she and her boyfriend, Free, were awakened by the sound of a gunshot followed by breaking glass. She said that the intruder was heard entering their Austin residence through the back door and was walking around the home while she and Free hid in their master closet.
When officers responded, they found a sedan with a New Mexico license plate backing out of the driveway. That's when a single gunshot came from the sedan, and officers returned fire at the driver.
The driver, identified by police as Christopher Eric Giles, 23, died on the scene. Police said a handgun was in Giles' right hand. Austin police also found a New Mexico driver's license that appeared to belong to Giles.
As police investigated, they discovered that Giles allegedly used a firearm to break the glass of the doorway. Police said video evidence showed Giles appeared to be searching for residents within the home and that "it was apparent that Giles' sole intent was to cause harm to someone who resides there."
When police searched Giles' cell phone, "threatening thoughts were recorded by Giles and directed toward" Free, including "I want Gavin Free to die alone, with no children."
"Based upon these notations, it was apparent that Giles developed a fondness of Turney yet resented Free for his lifestyle and success," the affidavit read.
While not associated with this case, University of Texas Associate Professor Dr. Angeline Close Scheinbaum was able to give her expert opinion about what psychological trends might have played a part.
As an expert in both social media and psychology, she said this case fits well into "Parasocial interaction."
"It's when a real consumer, a real person has a relationship that's real to them, but the kicker is it's not normal at all because it's one sided," she said. "The other party may or may not even be aware of that person's existence."
Dr. Scheinbaum said the emotions are real. Love, anger, hate and jealousy all feel authentic even if the relationship isn't.
"They're one side," She said. "The one person doesn't even know who the other person is, whereas the other person who really, really feels attached in some ways. That attachment can be dangerous."
Giles was described as "single, lonely and disturbed," according to police.