Woman killed in shooting at Club Elite in Palmetto was mother and grandmother

rdymond@bradenton.comSeptember 12, 2011 

MANATEE -- Gwenette Matthews’ family members were too upset Sunday to talk about Matthews, the 38-year-old mother and grandmother who was killed in a torrent of AK-47 gunfire that claimed one other life and injured 22 Saturday at a Palmetto night club.

Several neighbors on the quiet 600 block of 24th Avenue West in Bradenton where Williams had lived with her son, daughter and daughter’s baby voiced their dismay over Matthews’ fate.

Like many others, they wonder if she was really the target when firearms began to blaze at about 12:30 a.m. Saturday on the crowd at Club Elite, 704 10th St. W.

The shooting also killed Trayon Goff, 25, of Palmetto. None of Goff’s relatives could be reached Sunday.

Matthews’ neighbors wonder if the rumors are true that the shooting was retribution for the shooting death last Thursday of James Collins, who was killed in the 2500 block of Third Street East -- less than a 10-minute walk from Matthews’ neighborhood.

“She was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” neighbor Margaret Henry confidently said of Gwenette Matthews. “We heard that she had just come out of the bathroom when she got hit.”

A few houses down, neighbor Fran Harris was shocked to learn that her neighbor was dead.

“It makes me feel bad,” Harris said. “Lately there is so much killing. All of these innocent people.”

Matthews always said “hello” to Margaret and Joe Henry, who often sit on their porch nearby.

“She was a very pleasant lady,” Margaret Henry said. “They are renters and have been here maybe a bit more than a year. My grandson, Michael, got to be good friends with her son, Corbit, who was also in high school.”

According to Henry, Matthews was a nurse who was proud of her son and daughter.

“Gwenette’s son and our grandson played youth football together,” said Joe Henry, Margaret’s husband.

Henry’s grandson, Michael Guy, 14, who now attends Lakewood Ranch High School, hadn’t heard about the shooting of his good friend’s mom until he walked into his grandmother’s house on Saturday.

“I said, ‘Michael, I have something to tell you. Corbit’s mother has been shot and killed,’” Henry said. “ He had the same blank look on his face as when my father died. I kept saying, ‘Are you OK’ It was like he could hardly believe it.”

Henry said she believes that Matthews’ son is now staying with a relative out of town.

The Henrys attend nearby Samoset Baptist Church. They said Matthews talked often about her Christian faith, but they didn’t know where she went to church.

“I have always known the Christian thing to do for a grieving family is to cook for them, so I am preparing a meatloaf,” Margaret Henry said.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686.

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