Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace died an untimely death at age 50 when serial killer Andrew Cunanan shot him in the back of the head as he walked down the front porch steps at his Miami Beach mansion. He was later pronounced dead at the nearby Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Typically, Versace had an assistant accompany him when he walked outside of his home, but on July 15, 1997, he decided to walk alone to pick up coffee from a local shop, and to retrieve his daily papers.
The shooter, Cunanan, 27, was said to be obsessed with Versace. He often bragged about having a friendship with the designer, but despite scenes in the FX show, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” that depicted the pair together, Versace’s family .Flowers lay on the blood-stained steps of Italian designer Gianni Versace’s mansion in Miami Beach Tuesday, July 15, 1997. Versace was gunned down on the steps while walking home from the nearby News Cafe, where he had picked up an Italian newspaper. (AP Photo/Hans Deryk)
A woman who identified herself as Mersiha Colakovic told police she witnessed the shooting. According to the Sun Sentinel, Colakovic said after dropping her daughter off at school, she was walking down Ocean Drive when she spotted Versace. She they smiled and greeted each other.
Colakovic told authorities she saw a man close to Versace’s steps. She wasn’t sure who the man was, but assumed he was a fan.
“I thought it was an admirer or someone who knew him because he sped up to reach Versace. The murderer walked backwards from the steps. He placed his gun in the bag he carried which was open and continued on his way down the street as if nothing had happened. Very calm. He had a Donald Duck walk.”Evidence markers are placed on the steps of the Miami Beach mansion of Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace where he was shot to death Tuesday, July 15, 1997.(AP Photo/Gregory Smith) Flowers lay at the shooting scene where Italian designer Gianni Versace was gunned down in front of his Miami Beach mansion Tuesday, July 15, 1997. Security hired by the family stand outside the gates on the steps where the shooting took place. (AP Photo/Hans Deryk) Miami Beach police investigators point as they talk near an area covered in a blue tarp where Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace was shot to death in front of his Miami Beach mansion Tuesday, July 15, 1997. (AP Photo/Gregory Smith) Police officers pick up clothes found near the scene where a man was shot to death in Miami Springs and a man fitting the discription of Andrew Cananan was seen leaving the area Thursday, July 17, 1997. Cananan is a suspect in the shooting death of fashion designer Gianni Versace. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Prior to Versace’s death, Cunnanan killed at least four other people. Versace was his last victim. On July 23, 1997, Cunnanan shot and killed himself inside a Miami houseboat. The self-inflicted suicide occurred shortly after the FBI placed Cunnanan on the .
Authorities are still stumped as to why Cunnanan specifically targeted Versace.Police and FBI agents stand in front of a houseboat on the intracoastal waterway adjacent to Collins Avenue on Miami Beach late Wednesday night, July 23, 1997, where serial killer Andrew Cunanan was found shot to death by what was reported as a self inflicted gunshot wound after the houseboat was stormed by police. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
“I don’t know that we are ever going to know the answers,” Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Barreto . “We can speculate about the motive being robbery, or Andrew Cunanan going out in a big way, or revenge for some perceived act by Versace. But unfortunately, the real answer went down with the ship, so to speak, when Andrew Cunanan committed suicide.”The Medical Examiner’s van carrying the body of Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace leaves Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Tuesday July 15, 1997. Versace was shot to death outside his Miami Beach mansion early Tuesday. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
The FBI web site containing information on suspected serial killer Andrew Phillip Cunanan is seen Thursday, July 24, 1997, the morning after SWAT team members stormed a houseboat in Miami Beach in which Cunanan was later found dead. Cunanan, who eluded anationwide manhunt for nearly three months, was the prime suspect in the slaying of designer Gianni Versace and four others and died in an apparent suicide. (AP Photo/FBI via World Wide Web)
Versace’s family had the designer’s body cremated. They sent his ashes returned to the family estate close to Cernobbio, Italy, where he was buried at the Moltrasio cemetery in a vault.The lakeside villa owned by Gianni Versace in Moltrasio, Italy on Lake Como is pictured Friday, July 18, 1997. The family of Gianni Versace brought the ashes of the slain fashion designer to Italy to be placed in a local cemetery. (AP Photo/Valentino Catalani)
[Feature Photo: AP/Lionel Cironneau]