Preston Citizen Staff
The early morning hours of April 26, were light and full of fun for three Preston men. But that mood was about to change in a deadly way after a work acquaintance arrived.
James Kelly Pilgrim, a convicted felon, seemed to be intoxicated, according to witnesses, and was in possession of two firearms. Pilgrim compared weapons with Chad Andrus and the two later took an ATV ride. But that relaxed atmosphere turned deadly later. Chaos erupted after the two men scuffled, shots were fired and Andrus was dead.
Preston police charged Pilgrim with second-degree murder, aggravated assault and unlawful possession of a firearm. He is currently being held in the Caribou County Jail.
The three men, Marc Wilson, Chad Andrus and his son Nick Andrus, were relaxing in a shed in the back of Chad’s home before midnight on April 25. They were drinking beer, playing the guitar and Chad was even teaching Nick how to play the harmonica.
That’s when, according to police reports, Pilgrim arrived. At about 10 p.m. he knocked on the Andrus family door and was escorted to the back of the home by Chad’s son, Tyler Andrus. Chad Andrus had been Pilgrim’s supervisor at Plastic Industries, though Chad Andrus was now working the day shift and Pilgrim had the night shift.
Wilson said Pilgrim immediately asked, “Who’s packing,” referring to who had a weapon on them. The two men looked at Pilgrim’s .22 caliber handgun and his .38 caliber handgun. (As a convicted felon, it was against the law for Pilgrim to possess firearms.) They later went for a ride on a 4-wheeler, returning to the home. Later Nick Andrus went for a 4-wheeler ride, leaving Chad Andrus, Pilgrim and Wilson at the home.
The mood changed quickly
According to witness statements, sometime after about 2 a.m., the two men moved towards the entrance to the shed when a fight suddenly erupted. The two men scuffled for a moment when shots were fired and Chad Andrus fell to the ground.
Pilgrim wheeled around and pointed the gun at Wilson, who was sitting in a chair. He reportedly said, “I’m a little f****** crazy. Are you crazy?” Pilgrim pointed the .38 at Wilson, who begged for his life.
Tyler Andrus stated he had heard handgun shots earlier in the night and discovered the men were outside near the back of the home firing the .22. When he heard shots again, around 2 a.m., he figured it was the same thing. However, after moving into the backyard he quickly realized something was not right.
He heard Pilgrim yelling, “I told you Chad. I told you I was f****** crazy!” Realizing he hadn’t heard anything from his father, he crept up on the shed entrance and saw Pilgrim pointing a gun at Wilson, asking, “Do you want to die?”
When Pilgrim turned his attention away from the door Tyler Andrus burst through the opening, hurdled his mortally wounded dad who was on the ground, and hit Pilgrim in the face with a 25-pound dumbbell weight. The two men fell to the ground and Tyler put Pilgrim in a chokehold and tried to get the gun away from him. Wilson jumped in and secured the .38, at which time Tyler began hitting Pilgrim in the face with his fists, then hit him twice with an ax that was in the shed. The attack rendered Pilgrim unconscious.
That’s when they realized the severity of the injuries to Chad Andrus. He had been hit twice in the chest when the gun discharged and once in the upper right arm.
The men called 911 and police were dispatched at about 2:20 a.m. Officers reported responding to the call and taking every precaution when approaching the scene. Preston sergeant Colby Balls and reserve sheriff’s deputy BJ Golightly stayed in the shadows, tactically moving toward the scene. Sheriff deputy Travis Despain was another responder. He reported hearing yelling and screaming coming from the shed.
Balls wrote of the chaos as he approached the scene. He heard one of the witnesses yelling, “Help, he is dying. Help him, help him.”
Several witnesses came out of the building and were detained as officers tried to sift through the crime scene. Pilgrim, who was bleeding after the attack, was transported to Franklin County Medical Center and later McKay Dee Hospital in Ogden.
Chad Andrus was declared dead at the scene. Witnesses, including Chad’s wife, Kayla Gregory, were transported for questioning. Pilgrim was later questioned by police and recalled some of the events of the night, but said he couldn’t remember shooting Chad Andrus.
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