In April 2005, Gary Joe Kinne, a dedicated coach of a high school football team in Canton, Texas, became the target of a shooting by Jeffrey Doyle Robertson, a parent of another student. Kinne, who had relocated to the town just two years prior, was known for his hard work and commitment. The incident raised questions about the motive behind Robertson’s actions, as there seemed to be no apparent reason for such animosity towards Kinne. ‘Murder Under the Friday Night Lights: Winning at All Cost’ examines whether Robertson acted impulsively as a hot-headed individual or if there was a deeper and more complex story behind the tragic event.
How Was Gary Joe Kinne Attacked?
Gary Joe Kinne joined Canton High School in 2003 after serving as a coach at Mesquite High School. At the time of his arrival, Canton’s football team faced significant challenges, with little hope of winning, and the matches were more social gatherings within the school community. Kinne took charge and led the team to the playoffs for the first time in 19 years, sparking enthusiastic discussions among the townspeople about the team’s performance. Alongside Kinne, his son G.J. Kinne enrolled as a freshman in the school and joined the football team, taking on the role of varsity quarterback.
On April 7, 2005, during the first period of school, Gary Joe Kinne was in his office when he was shot once in the chest. The incident occurred without any witnesses present to identify the shooter. When authorities arrived at the scene, they found no suspects. Kinne was swiftly transported to a hospital via helicopter, where he underwent surgery. In the following days, he emerged from a critical condition and stabilized, bringing relief to Kinne’s family and friends.
Who Attacked Gary Joe Kinne?
Following the shooting of Gary Joe Kinne, a student at the school observed a truck leaving the school premises. Law enforcement successfully traced the vehicle, discovering it belonged to a man named Jeffrey Doyle Robertson, who happened to be the father of one of the students. A collaborative effort involving around 15 agencies was initiated to locate Robertson. His abandoned truck was located alongside a highway near a golf course, but Robertson was not present. Eventually, he was found approximately 500 yards away from his truck, lying face down and unresponsive. He had slashed both of his wrists and had also stabbed himself in the leg in an attempt to kill himself.
Surrounding him were numerous guns, seemingly discarded from his truck, and one of the guns found inside was a .45 caliber, matching the weapon used to shoot Kinne. After being discovered unresponsive, Jeffrey Doyle Robertson was transported to a hospital for medical treatment while remaining in police custody. As the police conducted their investigation, they uncovered Robertson’s history of run-ins with the law during the 70s and 80s, including involvement with a troublesome group known as the “Canton Mafia.”
Robertson had previously worked for Dallas Plumbing Co. for six years, departing in 2002 to establish his own company. At the time of the incident, he was employed as an air conditioner repairman. Other parents informed the police that Robertson had been deeply involved in his son’s participation in the football team. In 2004, after a sub-varsity team match involving his younger son, some students teased Robertson’s son. In response, Robertson grabbed one of the students, Steve Smith, and issued threats. Despite Smith’s father reporting the incident to the school, no action was taken.
In August 2004, during a match where his son was playing, Robertson physically confronted an assistant coach, grabbing him by the collar and verbally abusing him. Following this altercation, Robertson faced charges of disorderly conduct from the Canton police. However, when the coach chose not to press charges, the case was dropped. Despite this, the school prohibited Robertson from entering the school property. Investigations revealed that a day before the shooting, Gary Joe Kinne had removed Robertson’s son from the football team, naming his son as the first-string quarterback.
Numerous parents had expressed concerns about Kinne’s coaching techniques, accusing him of building the team’s offense around his son’s strengths. In the months leading up to the incident, several parents heard from their children about intentions to leave the team due to perceived favoritism towards Kinne’s son. A few other residents of the town also alleged that one the night before the incident he had told them about a list of 5 people that he had planned to shoot.
Jeffrey Doyle Robertson is Imprisoned Even Today
Gary Joe Kinne endured over 100 days in the hospital, undergoing three to four surgeries to recover from the gunshot wound. During the police investigation, Kinne recounted the events leading up to the shooting. He stated that Jeffrey Doyle Robertson had approached his office, calling him out. As Kinne exited the room, he found Robertson casually leaning against the hallway wall near the dressing room. Kinne described Robertson’s eyes as lifeless, noting that Robertson smirked before firing the gun he held in his hand.
In March 2006, Jeffrey Doyle Robertson was convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, resulting in a 20-year prison sentence. Before this conviction, he had already pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm on school grounds, receiving a separate 10-year sentence for that charge. The court determined that both sentences would be served concurrently. Robertson is currently 40 years old and incarcerated at the Larry Gist State Jail, with an initial parole eligibility date set for April 2023. However, as of now, he remains behind bars, and his projected release date is in 2028.