The morning of July 15, 1997, still haunts Antonio D’Amico all these years later.
D’Amico, the longtime partner of fashion icon Gianni Versace, was inside the couple’s villa in Miami Beach, Florida, when he heard gunshots ring out.
“I heard ‘Bam! Bam!’ ” D’Amico, a 59-year-old model and fashion designer, tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview. “My blood chilled right away.”
The shooting is the subject of Monday’s episode of PEOPLE Magazine Investigates: Crimes of Fashion, airing Monday at 9 p.m. ET on Investigation Discovery. (An exclusive clip of the episode is shown above.)
The morning of the killing, D’Amico had plans to play tennis and Versace had gone out to buy magazines covering recent fashion shows in Paris. Just before entering his home on the way back, Versace was shot by 27-year-old Andrew Cunanan, who killed the designer in a four-month spree during which he murdered at least four others.
Up until the morning of the shooting, says D’Amico, “We had lived a very safe live without any problems.”
He adds that Versace always refused to hire bodyguards and extra security despite his family’s urging. “He thought people looked ridiculous surrounded by these giant men,” says D’Amico. “We never felt in danger. He didn’t want to draw more attention to himself than necessary with all the bodyguards.”
• Watch People Magazine Investigates: Crimes of Fashion: The Murder of Gianni Versace, airing Monday at 9 p.m. ET on Investigation Discovery.
But the shooting shattered that peace. D’Amico found his partner’s body in a pool of blood.
“When I saw the blood I tried to scream, but no sound came out of my mouth,” he says.
D’Amico caught a glimpse off Cunanan as he fled, and was dumbfounded why anyone would want to kill Versace. He says he and Versace had no idea who Cunanan was before the fatal shooting.
“The FBI and the police couldn’t find a single person that didn’t like Gianni,” says D’Amico. “They couldn’t find a single reason why someone would want to kill him, because he was such a normal guy. He was a very normal, shy person.”
• For more on the shocking murder of Gianni Versace and the devastation of partner Antonio D’Amico, subscribe now to PEOPLEor pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday.
To this day, Cunanan’s motive remains unknown.
Days after he killed Versace, Cunanan took his own life on a local houseboat as authorities closed in. But key questions lingered about his crimes, as there did not appear to be any consistent m.o. or connection among his victims.
D’Amico is frustrated that Cunanan’s motive was never made clear. And he continues to be haunted by that morning.
“I would often ask myself in the aftermath whether things would have been different had I been there with him that morning,” he says. “Would something have changed? Could I have protected him? Could I have saved him?”
People Magazine Investigates: Crimes of Fashion, The Murder of Gianni Versace airs Monday (9 p.m. ET) on Investigation Discovery.