‘I’m here for a reason’
February 7, 2014
A burly truck driver, Guy Perry could be an intimidating figure.
But Cassidy Perry, his youngest of three children and only daughter, didn't see him that way.
"We used to play Pretty, Pretty Princess when I was little," she said. "He could do everything from braiding my hair to building an add-on to the house to fixing a car. He was definitely the go-to man."
And the night when her ex-boyfriend broke into her home with deadly intentions, it was her father who stepped in, taking the fatal bullet.
“They thought I was dead. But I moved, and Kyle realized I was alive. That’s how Michael got away. I remember opening my eyes and just seeing red. Everything was covered in blood.”
Cassidy, 19, was living at home with her parents in east Carson City when she started dating Michael Brentlinger, three years her senior, in April 2013.
In the beginning, her parents didn't have a problem with the relationship.
"At first he seemed OK," said Cassidy's mother, Juanita. "He said the right things around us. He did the right things around us. After a while, you start to see through that, which we did."
After breaking up and getting back together again and again, the two decided to move in together in October, against Cassidy's parents' wishes. With her relationship with her parents already strained, she said, it was easier for her boyfriend to cut her off.
"He really isolated me," she said. "He was emotionally and verbally abusive. He didn't like me going out with my friends."
After nearly two months, Cassidy knew she couldn't stay. Although she feared his reaction, she called her father for help.
"What do you think I'm going to say?" she remembers him asking. "Do you think I'm going to be mad? It doesn't matter. You're still my daughter."
It was a familiar message, Cassidy said.
"Every time I made a mistake, that's always what he'd tell me."
Her dad helped her fix up a travel trailer in the back yard, and she moved back home.
Not long after, she found a Christmas present Brentlinger left for her on the front door of her trailer. A few nights later, just before Thanksgiving, she came home to find him inside the trailer, waiting for her.
"I walked in, and he just came sauntering up," she said.
She said he grabbed her by the wrists, pinned her against the wall and warned her not to do anything that would jeopardize his new job at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
She escaped, ran to her parents' home and called the police. After the long Thanksgiving weekend, she took out a restraining order.
"I wasn't scared of him," she said. "He was scared of my brother, and I knew he was scared of my dad. I figured the restraining order would stop him."
And it seemed like it did.
To be safe, she moved in with her brother, Kyle, 21, next door to her parents. And for about a month, she didn't hear anything from Brentlinger. Through friends, she heard he was dating.
"I figured he finally got the hint," she said. "That he was trying to move on."
But something snapped.
On the morning of Dec. 28, Cassidy heard someone in her front room. She'd spent most of the night before on the phone with a friend from high school. While she was talking, she noticed the motion sensor light kept coming, but attributed it to stray cats in the area. When she hung up around 5:30 a.m., she heard her own cat hissing in the living room, then it bolted into her room and jumped on the bed.
Turning off her radio and locking her bedroom door, she listened closely and heard footsteps. As quietly as she could, she called her mom and told her someone was in the house.
"I never thought it would be him," she said.
She watched out her window and saw her parents come through the front gate, then up to the door.
"I heard my dad say, 'Cass, we're here,'" she said. "I took a step out of my room and Michael was right there. My dad actually rushed over and pushed me back onto the bed, and he said something like, 'Stand the (expletive) back!'
"That's when he shot my dad."
She remembers trying to call the police, but then he shot her, too.
"The whole world was spinning," she said. "I was just out."
Kyle, awakened by the commotion, tackled Brentlinger — managing to dodge two shots — and they wrestled for the .45-caliber pistol over Cassidy's body.
"They thought I was dead," Cassidy said. "But I moved, and Kyle realized I was alive. That's how Michael got away. I remember opening my eyes and just seeing red. Everything was covered in blood."
Cassidy remained in lockdown at the hospital, while law enforcement searched for Brentlinger.
"I know every single one of them wanted to find him really bad," Juanita said. "They were really good at keeping us updated. They were in constant contact."
Two days later, he was found in south Reno. When officers confronted him at Manzanita Park, Brentlinger, 22, killed himself with the pistol.
"I was relieved, but I wasn't," Juanita said. "He didn't deserve to live, but he didn't deserve to take the easy way out, either. It makes me so mad sometimes."
Juanita, who met Guy, 52, when she was 12 and started dating him at 14, is struggling to make sense out of a life without her husband of 27 years. The two had plans to move to Topaz Lake in semi-retirement, and have belongings spread between the two places.
"I don't even know where to start with that," she said. "Daddy took care of so much."
Cassidy is left with a scar on the back of her head and near her right eye where the bullet exited. She is deaf in her right ear, and has swelling and paralysis on the right side of her face.
Doctors aren't sure how much she will recover from the nerve damage.
But Cassidy isn't dwelling on her injuries.
"I have a totally different perspective on life now," she said. "I'm here for a reason. I know my dad would want me to stay positive."