Man shot dead protecting family
Pretoria - Emotional friends and family have come out in support of a pregnant woman who lost her life partner after robbers broke into the man’s home and shot him several times.
Jo Starr, 40, was asleep next to Aneke Gardiner at their Reitvlei, Pretoria, home when Gardiner began hearing noises in the house. Her two children, Aidan, 6, and 8-year-old Nika, were asleep in the downstairs bedroom.
Starr went downstairs to investigate and found a man in the house. “Jo started throwing his large crystals at the robber and shouted for him to get out of our house,” said Gardiner.
The man fled through a window and Starr investigated the property for more suspects. Then someone shouted: “We’re going to shoot you.”
“I was standing at the top of the stairs when Jo told me to come and fetch the children immediately.”
“I ran downstairs to get Aiden and Nika. They were awake and hysterical. I took them to the upstairs bedroom and wrapped them in blankets - Jo was still downstairs.”
‘Then I heard a shot’
Meanwhile, the five robbers broke down the kitchen door, entered the house and started shouting again “we’re going to shoot you”.
Starr pleaded with the robbers to not harm his family, saying that they were prepared to co-operate by handing over all valuables. He was determined not to let the robbers go upstairs to where the children were.
But as he was calling her to get the valuables, Gardiner heard gunshots.
The robbers shot at him several times and missed but one shot to the head would be the fatal blow.
“I ran downstairs when I heard another shot and saw Jo fall to the ground."
“The men instructed me to bring them the laptop and I did as they asked. I turned around and ran back to my children but they [the robbers] ran after me.
After asking Gardiner for money and jewellery and hitting her on the head with the gun, the gang fled with a laptop, two cellphones and a plasma TV.
‘There was so much blood’
After the robbers left, Gardiner ran downstairs where she found her partner lying in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor. Nika and Aidan tried to help get Starr into their vehicle but after several attempts she realised that she would have to find another way.
“I told Aidan to get as many towels and blankets as he could find, I wanted to try and stop the bleeding,” Gardiner said.
“Jo was still conscious and I kept telling him that help is on the way and that he needs to think about our unborn baby. There was so much blood.”
The neighbours appeared on the scene and the police and an emergency vehicle were dispatched.
Starr was turned away by the hospital that was closest to them, with the hospital saying that they “have no space”. Jo was taken to the Kalafong Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries at 08:00.
Gardiner said that her children called Starr their “Space Dad” because he was always teaching them about the planets and astrology.
Gardiner, who is expecting her and Starr’s first child together, said: “If it is a boy, I will name him Jo Starr. In fact, I will do so even if it is a little girl! If it wasn’t for Jo we might not have been here either. He fought with his life to protect his family.”
Messages of support have been pouring in for the two on their Facebook pages.
A memorial will be held for Starr on Thursday at the Stone Cradle Restaurant.
Police have not yet made any arrests. Anyone with information can contact the Littleton police station on 012 644 8600 or Detective Warrant Officer Thinus van Wyk 012 644 8602.