Officer murder-suicide at Gilroy home

Lynn Polinshky-Shimek with her husband Christopher Shimek, taken

Neighbors in a manicured neighborhood off Santa Teresa Boulevard
were “shocked” Monday morning after San Jose police sergeant
Christopher Shimek apparently killed his wife, then turned a gun on
himself Sunday night.
Neighbors in a manicured neighborhood off Santa Teresa Boulevard were “shocked” Monday morning after San Jose police sergeant Christopher Shimek apparently killed his wife, then turned a gun on himself Sunday night.

The bodies of Lynn Shimek, 43, and her husband Christopher Shimek, 51 – a San Jose police sergeant of 16 years – were found by Gilroy police officers around 9:39 p.m. Sunday inside the couples’ two-story home on the 9400 block of Rodeo Drive in Gilroy.

The discovery was made following a welfare check requested by friends and family of Christopher, whom GPD officials have identified as a murder suspect.

Though it’s unclear how Lynn died, police say her husband died “from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

Several neighbors said Monday they were unaware of any domestic disputes occurring at the Shimek’s household prior to Sunday’s incident. No one recalled hearing gunshots Sunday evening.

Three years ago, GPD responded to a call alleging Christopher hit his then 15-year-old step-son “in a rage,” according to Gillio, who searched his databases for service calls and located a brief report dated March 3, 2007.

According to the report, Lynn “requested that an officer speak with her and a child,” but did not want any further police action.

No other calls were made to the GPD regarding domestic violence at the Shimek’s home, Gillio said.

The couple has two teen-age sons according to Sandra McCarthy, 50, a Gilroy resident since 1976 and friend of Lynn’s for five years who described the wife and mother as “an amazing soul, very warm and extremely creative.”

Peering outside her door, Sandra Vaccaro, 23, described Christopher and Lynn as “great people.”

“They were like the perfect couple. They seemed like they were really happy,” said Vaccaro, who lived next door to the Shimeks for 10 years. “This came as a shock to everybody. It seems so out of character.”

Vaccaro confirmed the Shimek’s oldest child is Lynn’s biological son, and Christopher’s step-son.

McCarthy said the Shimek’s oldest son is 19 and named Forest, although she is unsure of the spelling. The youngest is named Skylar. McCarthy thinks Skylar is 13 and attending Brownell Middle School. She said the children are currently staying with Christopher’s sister in San Jose.

By mid-morning, the aroma of scented candles wafted above the Shimek’s front yard as friends arrived with flowers and balloons for a growing sidewalk shrine.

Although police, camera crews and investigators flocked to the home between dusk and dawn, there were no signs of abnormalities by 11 a.m. Not so much as a yellow line of cautionary tape dotted the well-kept lawn.

One visitor paying his respects was John Carapinha, a reserve officer with the SJPD who lived around the corner from the Shimek’s for four years before moving to San Martin.

A co-worker of Christopher’s for more than a decade, Carapinha did not want to comment on the situation but briefly mentioned the Shimeks were experiencing marital problems.

SJPD spokesman Sgt. Jason Dwyer did not return phone calls as of press time, but told several media outlets Christopher showed no red flags or signs that he was having any kind of trouble.

McCarthy noted Lynn celebrated her 43rd birthday with a group of friends two weeks ago, but is unaware of any relationship issues.

While she met with Lynn regularly to play bunko, McCarthy’s familiarity with Christopher was more of a distant acquaintance.

“I don’t know him real well,” she said, standing outside the empty house Monday morning after dropping off a potted poinsettia. “But I’m not too happy with him right now.”

McCarthy said the children were home Sunday night, but “Christopher sent them off to get food, or something.”

Gillio confirmed there were no other people in the Shimek household when police arrived at the residence.

When asked if she believed the murder was premeditated, McCarthy maintained she was not at liberty to speculate, but reiterated, “the kids were not there.”

In a GPD press release sent Monday morning, details surrounding the couples’ deaths are sparse. During a phone conversation, Gillio said the GPD is unable to release any information on how Lynn was killed, where the bodies were found or who contacted the GPD first. He only ensured, “the case is under investigation at this time.”

Gillio said Shimek, who served in the traffic division, was hired by the San Jose Police Department in 1995.

Standing in the foyer of his home on the west side of Rodeo Drive, Lawrence Lowe, 50 – whose daughter graduated from Gilroy High School one year ahead of the Shimek’s son Forest – was floored by the grave news.

Lowe said his family settled on Rodeo Drive in 1998, shortly after the Shimeks moved in.

Referring to his deceased neighbor as “Chris,” Lowe said the husband and father was a respected figure who always introduced himself and knew everyone’s name.

“There were no indications there was anything going on,” Lowe said. “I’m really surprised. I didn’t see any signs of distress, or issues so extreme that would warrant such circumstances.”

A neighbor living next door to Lowe also answered the door, but declined to comment. Visibly unnerved by the events that unfolded between the late evening and early hours of the morning, she shook her head and answered, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

On her MySpace page, Lynn described herself as an artist, face painter and mother of two.

A business website, “Amazing Face Paintings,” advertises her services as a licensed professional face painter who is available for bookings in Northern California.

She was also handy with a with a pair of skates, lacing up with the South County Derby Girls and throwing elbows alongside Gilroy’s rough-and-tumble roller divas.

Lisa Wharton, the team’s vice president who also known by her derby moniker “Smashin Smeesha,” described Lynn – a teammate of one year – as “the sweetest person. Always so happy, and so sweet. She had this light that just shined from her.”

Wharton said none of the derby girls are acquainted with Christopher – save for Lynn’s best friend Tammy Drews, who is also on the team.

Drews did not return calls as of press time.

In honor of their former teammate, who ironically planned to attend the Derby Girl’s “Stand Against Domestic Violence” fundraiser Dec. 11 at Dutchman’s Pizza on 6940 Chestnut St., Wharton said a portion of proceeds raised throughout the day will be donated to the Shimek family.

Patrons interested in supporting this effort should mention they’re visiting on behalf of the Derby Girls’ fundraiser.

On Nov. 16, Lynn left a note on the event’s Facebook page, indicating she was looking forward to the “Stand Against Domestic Violence” event.

A string of comments has since amassed beneath Lynn’s posting.

“How ironic,” one commenter wrote. “So very, very sad.”

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