On Nov. 2, police received a call from a local jewelry salesman, Jay Brett Rind, reporting an accidental shooting at his apartment in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
According to an affidavit filed in court on Nov. 5, Rind told dispatchers that he’d met an old friend, 21-year fire department veteran James Gilliard, for dinner to offer him the “deal of a lifetime.” Rind planned to move to Mexico, and suggested he give his old pal, whom he’d met years prior when Gilliard owned a local pawn shop, two guns.
The friends met for dinner at a local grill, according to the affidavit, where Gilliard had a glass of Merlot. Rind drank a Diet Coke. After the meal, the men drove to Rind’s apartment, where he showed Gilliard the two firearms.
Rind told police that, in attempting to show Gilliard that one gun was empty, he inadvertently shot the captain in the stomach. Gilliard later died from the injury at a nearby hospital. A toxicology report showed he had traces of amphetamines, morphine, oxycodone, and the benzodiazepine alprazolam in his system when he died.
Our hearts are broken as we mourn the loss of our fire Captain James Gilliard. 48 year old Captain Gilliard passed away unexpectedly yesterday. He served Palm Beach County for 21 years. Our thoughts are with his family. pic.twitter.com/HOfSXOQoBH
— PBC Fire Rescue (@PBCFR) November 3, 2020
When investigators filed their affidavit three days later, they cited probable cause to charge Rind with one count of manslaughter. “Mr. Rind reiterated that he had no unsettling feeling towards Mr. Gilliard,” the affidavit read, “that they’ve been friends for years [since] the two met while they were in the retail business. Once again, he explained the incident was a total accident.”
But the picture of the accident changed after Florida State Attorney’s Office investigator John P. Boyle reviewed 10 months of texts between the two men, revealing that “Mr. Rind, his roommate ‘Alex,’ and Mr. Gilliard were engaged in an ongoing conspiracy to distribute narcotics that Mr. Rind received prescriptions for, or brought back during his trips to Mexico.”
“In the approximately 10 month period prior to the shooting,” the officer wrote in a subsequent affidavit filed on Nov. 25, “the defendant and victim appeared to exchange text messages dealing with the buying, selling, or trading of drugs on at least 77 separate occasions.”
Boyle recommended Rind be charged with felony murder in the third degree. The affidavit does not dispute that the shooting may have been accidental.
According to Boyle’s report, he found exchanges between the two men, sent from Nov. 2019 to Oct. 2020, that addressed all four of the drugs found in Gilliard’s system when he died. The texts included familiar slang like “addy” for adderall or “morph” for morphine, as well as less obvious terms, including “melle,” which the officer inferred to mean oxycodone.
“They also discuss the distribution of ‘orange’ ‘oranges’ or ‘orange juice,’ the officer wrote. “I believe this is referring to Amphetamines, however; it could also be referring to morphine pills as the morphine pills located in the victim’s vehicle on the night of the shooting imprinted with ABG-60 were orange.”
The texts also revealed the plans to meet for Gilliard’s final exchange. “I’m probably not going to Mexico until the 25th of November because I want to get the morph for myself, the mellie and the orange so you don’t need to help me out,” Rind texted, according to the report. “If we can make a deal I think this could be the best one I have made with you any idea when we can get together?” Gilliard responded that he could shoot for Monday or Tuesday. They met up on Monday, Nov. 2.
Rind was released on a $20,000 bond. The court filed an order of no contact to prevent him from contacting Gilliard’s family or next of kin. Rind will appear in court on Dec. 10.