NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodCape Coral


CAPE TRAGEDY: Inside the mind of a Veteran in crisis

How much did mental health play a role in the murder-suicide in Cape Coral?
D'angelo Gilliam
Posted at 6:43 PM, Mar 21, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-21 19:48:25-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — A day after a murder-suicide played out in the streets of Cape Coral, some are wondering whether mental health played a role in the violence.

On Thursday, Mercedes Gilliam spoke exclusively with Cape Coral's Community Correspondent Colton Chavez about her ex-husband, 34-year-old D’angelo Gilliam.

Police say Gilliam shot and killed his ex-girlfriend, 34-year-old Tiffani Starkey as they exchanged their two young children in the 1700 block of SE 12th Street.

Police say after shooting Starkey, Gilliam drove off with the children. Several neighbors saw and heard the crime.

Previous Reporting: Two people dead following murder-suicide in Cape Coral

Police say Gilliam later dropped off the children to nearby firefighters a few blocks away. Despite the efforts of officers to talk him down, police say Gilliam shot himself, and his car rolled into a canal.

An officer jumped into the water to try to save Gilliam, but the man was already dead.

“I don't know why. I just don’t want him to be painted as a monster."

Mercedes Gilliam, Gilliam's ex-wife

Mercedes Gilliam says her ex was an Afghanistan Army veteran.

She said it’s where they met, which led to them being married for six years, and having two kids of their own.

“You know we always wonder why but I don't think I will ever have an answer for why he did it. Why he did what he did, so just trying to figure out how to move forward with the kids,” said Mercedes Gilliam.

D'angelo left behind their two children, along with two other children that he shared with Tiffani Starkey.

“He would have never hurt any of his kids so I know that's the reason why he dropped them off,” said Mercedes Gilliam.

First responders initially said they believed D'angelo Gilliam was suffering from some type of mental issue.

“He went to Afghanistan..he had some mental health problems I guess,” said Mercedes Gilliam.

No matter what may have been going on in D'angelo's mind, his ex-wife Mercedes said she did not condone his actions, and she recognized that another life was lost. But she insisted he was a good father.

“Just being a dad, being there I don't think I ever really gave him his props and I at least wish I could let him know,” said Mercedes Gilliam.