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The Pantagraph (Bloomington, IL)

November 19, 1998


David T. Garrett, the armed man killed by police Wednesday in Normal, previously had been accused of threatening suicide, threatening his wife and threatening his 7-year-old son.

The threats were treated seriously in the spring of 1997 when Circuit Judge W. Charles Witte signed a temporary order allowing Garrett to visit his boy only when accompanied by another adult. Also that spring, Garrett was hospitalized for depression, and the state’s attorney charged him with violating a restraining order by harassing his wife by telephone, according to court documents.

In divorce court proceedings, Garrett denied he ever made those threats or committed domestic battery and other cruel acts as alleged by Julie Garrett, who recently divorced him after 17 years of marriage.

“His son was his first priority, and I would never have suspected he was a danger to anyone,” said his attorney, Don Wilcox, after hearing his client had been fatally shot at Fairview Elementary School.

The nature of Garrett’s death remains under investigation, although police said he had a handgun when officers shot him inside his car in the school parking lot. The shooting followed a traffic pursuit and occurred while Garrett was making threatening gestures, police said.

Garrett, 36, had lived in LeRoy until recently, when he moved into his mother’s home in Bloomington. He often went to Fairview school to pick up his son, which was allowed by the court. Parental visitation had been settled in court mediation, and Julie Garrett was granted sole custody.

She declined to be interviewed Wednesday. However, in a 1996 emergency order of protection, she said she was so fearful of Garrett that when she left him on a Sunday in October, she pretended to go to church with her child. Garrett was served with an emergency order of protection later that day and learned of the divorce filing.

In the protection order, she told a judge that “the pain of staying … has become greater than the fear of leaving.” She alleged cruel and violent episodes, saying that Garrett:

  • Broke items and was proud of doing so.
  • Excessively spanked their son.
  • Beat a dog, breaking its nose, and that he also shot a horse.
  • Broke the child’s toys while irate.
  • Abused his wife, threatened her and threatened to harm the boy.

In court documents, Julie Garrett said her husband choked her until she passed out in September 1992.  She traced Garrett’s abusive behavior as beginning that year. She said he once fired a shotgun in her general direction.

A child custody study for the divorce case shows that David Garrett suffered back problems and depression starting in 1991.  He underwent therapy and was prescribed the anti-depressant drug Prozac, starting in 1996. He was unable to work because of physical problems and walked with a cane.

The custody study, by Catholic Social Services, is not entirely negative. Garrett was described as a loving and caring father who showed enthusiasm in a parenting class. The same study, however, said Garrett appeared to have coached his child to favor his father in interviews that were part of the study.

And despite his denials, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services concluded that Garrett did commit child abuse – both by excessive spanking and by abusing his wife in front of the child.