A beloved community member whose family has historic roots in Fort Lauderdale is being remembered after she died in an apparent murder-suicide this week, WPLG-TV reports.
On Thursday, Gwen Bass-Kemp was found dead inside a home she shared with Richard Kenneth McDonald. Both were 71. Investigators believe that McDonald shot Bass-Kemp, set the house on fire, and fatally shot himself as police officers made their way to the residence.
Around 8:30 p.m., Bass-Kemp’s son dialed 911 to report that he went to visit his mother and McDonald had pulled a gun on him.
“I went to go visit my mom, and I walked in on my mom’s boyfriend, and he sat there . . . he pulled a gun out on me . . . he is a military veteran. I know he has a license to carry,” the son said in the call, according to NBC Miami.
The son could also be heard saying on the call, “Shut up, dude! The only reason I’m leaving is because he pulled a gun on me!”
As police officers responded to the home in the Lake Aire neighborhood, McDonald set the house on fire and then went outside with his gun.
“The suspect, who barricaded himself, exited the home, and he shot himself in the front area of the home,” police spokesperson Det. Ali Adamson told WPLG-TV.
Fire crews made their way inside the house and found Bass-Kemp’s body. Police are still investigating what led to the deaths, CBS News Miami reports.
Bass-Kemp worked for 18 years as a billing specialist at Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue, where she was remembered as a dedicated colleague.
“Gwen’s loss is tragic and unthinkable,” Fort Lauderdale City Manager Greg Chavarria wrote in a public statement, according to WPLG-TV.
“She was a valued employee for nearly 20 years, and our colleagues are mourning her loss deeply. Our hearts go out to her family during this difficult time, and we ask that they be given the space and time to grieve.”
James Bass, Bass-Kemp’s father, was the first Black dentist with his own practice in Fort Lauderdale and had a park named after him, which just around the corner from the crime scene.
Friends and family of Bass-Kemp said she was a loving mother and kind person.
“She meant a lot to the family,” cousin Antoine Jones told CBS News Miami. “She meant love. She was good people. As a person, she was lovely. She was a good loving mother. I don’t feel good. I don’t believe this happened because she was such a good person. She was a damn good person. She would help you if she can.”
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[Feature Photo: Gwen Bass-Kemp/Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue]