BRANSON, Mo. — A woman is speaking out after a man shot and killed her friend at a Branson apartment complex.
Thursday night, police believe Stephen Walsh shot Whitney Davis, the manager at Branson Manor Apartments, before shooting and killing himself. Police also believe a rent dispute is what led to the shooting.
Police Chief Eric Schmitt said police responded quickly to calls of an active shooter, and treated the situation as such. Heelena Gonzalez, Davis’s neighbor said she is still shaken up over what happened.
“We’re just all in shock,” Gonzalez said. “We just can’t believe it, we can’t believe it would happen.”
Gonzalez said Whitney Davis was more than just her neighbor, she was also her friend.
“She was a mom to everybody,” said Gonzalez. “You know, my kids just keep walking in the living room and telling me, Mom, it’s empty. She was like a second mom to us.”
Gonzalez was in disbelief when she heard Davis had been shot and killed.
“It was just so random and senseless,” Gonzalez said. “And the fact that it happened to Whitney, somebody so vivacious and so full of life is really shocking.”
Davis managed multiple properties in the area and lived fifteen minutes away from Branson Manor Apartments.
Police say Stephen Walsh was found dead with apparent self-inflicted gunshot wounds and Davis was found dead in the management office.
Police say preliminary investigation indicates this was the result of a rent dispute.
“Because of the original reports of the active shooting, even though there was no more firing at the time or anything, they went ahead and treated as such,” Chief Schmitt said. “Shut down, lock down the building, cleared everything as we would normally do in an active shooter situation.”
Residents of the apartment complex said they are shaken up and can still hear the shots when they walk past the management office.
“It is very shocking to hear those gunshots and you’re in your safe place and to see police officers coming in and treating it as such,” Chief Schmitt said. “So, there are people that this is going to be with them for a while. So, the best that we can do is offer them those resources to help get through this.”
Chief Schmitt is stressing the importance of mental health and seeking help in the wake of this tragedy.
“The best thing that can come out of this is people asking for help,” Schmitt said. “If nothing else comes from this tragedy. That is what I would ask. reach out and ask for help.”
This is Branson’s first homicide this year. Chief Schmitt tells KOLR 10 the last was in 2021.