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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Father, artist, ‘Dreamer’: Family and friends remember 33-year-old killed near Maple Street Bridge

UPDATED: Thu., March 24, 2022

A loving and protective big brother, father and friend, Jeremy “Dreamer” Gauthier, 33, was shot and killed early this month. Those who knew and loved him recall a man who loved life, dreamed big and worked hard to battle his demons.

“He was a spitfire,” said Jami Buckley, his younger sister

Gauthier grew up in Montana in a large family. He cherished the role of big brother, protective over his little sisters and always trying to make them laugh, Buckley said.

“He was the typical big brother,” Buckley said. “If you messed with us, you messed with him kind of thing.”

For years in elementary school, Gauthier’s favorite thing was to jump out and scare people.

“That was like his enjoyment in life,” said Amy Young, Gauthier’s aunt.

It became a “family quest” to scare him back, but ever “unflappable,” it was a nearly impossible feat, Young said.

“We could not scare him,” Young said. “We jumped out of trees, we grabbed him from behind and it didn’t matter; he wouldn’t even flinch.”

The only thing that really scared Gauthier was wolves, so one day, his uncle donned a wolf mask, crept up to Gauthier’s window and finally got the big job done.

“It was the first thing ever that I had seen scare him,” Young said.

He wasn’t spooked for long, Young said. Gauthier was laughing and congratulating his uncle moments later.

Lifelong family friend Tia Brassard remembers spending every moment she could with Buckley, Gauthier and Brassard’s older brother, Sam. The four of them were inseparable as children, she said.

As Brassard and Buckley got older and turned into somewhat rebellious teenagers, they couldn’t sneak out of the house without Gauthier along to watch out for them and make sure they didn’t get into too much trouble, she said.

“No matter how mad I was or upset, he could always get me to smile and laugh,” Brassard said. “He always made it better.”

Gauthier always had his head in the clouds, causing him to take on the moniker “Dreamer” in middle school. He was fascinated by the sky, outer space, aliens and science fiction, themes he drew constantly, Young and Buckley said.

“He was very talented,” Young said. “I was really hoping he would become an artist.”

As Gauthier grew up, he battled some demons, working through substance abuse and spending time in prison, Young said. In Spokane County, he was convicted of criminal mischief, violation of an order, taking a motor vehicle without permission and forgery.

He worked as a handyman or doing construction, Buckley said. He was a “drifter” who “flew by the seat of his pants,” she said.

Still, he stayed in touch with family and supported those he loved however he could, Buckley and Young said.

Three years ago, he and his then-girlfriend had a son, Justyce, which gave Gauthier a new lease on life. He stayed in Spokane and spent as much time with his son as he could, despite separating from his son’s mother.

“He was an amazing father. He was always there to see him and be with him,” Buckley said. “His son was his world.”

On March 7, while between places to stay after breaking up with a girlfriend, Gauthier camped out on a pedestrian bridge south of Maple Street Bridge. A man Young said Gauthier knew from his time in prison, Charles E. Jackson Jr., 49, came up and picked a fight, while looking for someone else.

Jackson, also known as “Boogie,” got into an argument with Gauthier, likely over a woman who was with Jackson. Witnesses say Jackson shot and killed Gauthier, according to court documents.

That Gauthier died potentially protecting someone, isn’t a surprise to his family.

“I mean, he would have protected anybody at any cost,” Young said. “And eventually it cost him.”

Witnesses were slow to come forward out of fear of retaliation from Jackson, who made threats on social media following the shooting, according to court documents. From hundreds of miles away, Buckley quickly turned into a fierce advocate for her brother. She created flyers with a photo of Gauthier, what happened to him, and where they could report what they knew. Then she contacted organizations that do outreach on the streets of Spokane to see if they could hand out flyers or put up posters.

“Eventually some witnesses did come forward and they were able to gather enough to get a warrant out,” she said.

The Spokane Police Department, U.S. Marshals Service, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and the Spokane Regional Safe Streets Task Force all worked together, after they say Jackson made threats to law enforcement online, to apprehend him Saturday.

“We’re just so so thankful to them,” Buckley said. “I don’t know if I’ll ever have closure; my brother is gone forever, but I think it will help knowing that he’s off the street.”

Now, Gauthier’s family and friends are left to pick up the pieces.

“He was a goofball, but he liked to play the tough guy,” Brassard said. “We all loved him so much.”

Brassard’s brother, Sam, was killed by a drunken driver five years ago, leaving just Brassard and Buckley as the surviving two members of their childhood squad.

“It’s crazy they’re both gone now,” Brassard said.

Despite the devastating loss, Buckley has found the courage to focus on getting justice for her brother and remembering the loving relationship they shared, Brassard said.

“We all called him ‘Dreamer’ because he was just constantly flying by the seat of his pants,” Buckley said. “Shoot for the stars.”

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