Shooting Spree Rocks N.J. Town
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DOVER TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) _ The first one was shocking enough: A retired police officer allegedly guns down his granddaughter and three neighbors.
But then, just weeks later and a mile down the road, came a frighteningly similar slaughter: A SWAT team officer fatally shoots five neighbors _ one of whom had been accused of sexually assaulting the officer’s daughter _ before wounding his boss and then killing himself.
Now this star-crossed New Jersey shore community some 60 miles south of New York City, known most recently for its high childhood cancer rates, has another unwanted claim to fame _ and more heartache.
``We keep making the news, but it’s always bad news,″ said Linda Maddalena, 60, a Town Hall secretary.
Police say the first round of mayhem in Dover Township occurred at the hands of John W. Mabie, 70, a former Newark police officer who police said shot and killed his granddaughter and then went to each of his next-door neighbors’ homes, fatally shooting three others on Feb. 21.
On Tuesday, it happened again.
Edward L. Lutes Jr., 42, a veteran police officer in nearby Seaside Heights whose fiancee was killed last year in a traffic accident, walked out of his house and into the homes of two neighbors with whom he had feuded. Armed with a police-issue automatic pistol, police said he fatally shot Dominick Galliano, 51, wife Gail Galliano, 49, and their son, Christopher Galliano, 25.
After the Gallianos were dead, Lutes allegedly walked across the street and killed Gary Williams, 48, and his wife, Tina Williams, 46. The Williams’ 23-year-old son, who jumped out a back window to safety, flagged down police.
Authorities would not elaborate publicly on the nature of Lutes’ feud with his neighbors in Dover Township. But a law enforcement source who asked not to be identified told The Associated Press that one of the Gallianos had been acquitted of sexually assaulting Lutes’ daughter.
Citing court records, The Star-Ledger of Newark offered further details Thursday: Lutes’ daughter had claimed that Dominick Galliano exposed himself and began fondling himself while Gail and Dominick Galliano baby-sat her in March 1999. Dominick Galliano was acquitted last year of the alleged assault, the records showed.
Gary Williams had testified on behalf of Dominick Galliano at his trial, the Ledger reported.
After killing his neighbors, police said, Lutes drove 15 miles south to Barnegat, where police said he shot his boss _ Seaside Heights Police Chief James Costello _ as Costello headed to his car to drive to the scene of the latest killings. Costello, who was shot in the wrist and the leg, was hospitalized in stable condition Wednesday night.
The blood bath ended when Lutes pulled his 1995 Buick Regal into the driveway of a stranger’s home in a 55-and-over residential community and shot himself.
The owner of the home, who had no connection to Lutes, found the car’s engine running when she came out about 10 a.m. Lutes was slumped behind the wheel.
Neither Dover Township Police Chief Michael Mastronardy nor Executive Assistant Ocean County Prosecutor Gregory Sakowicz would say what prompted the shooting spree.
``He was a patrol officer, a fine officer who did his job well,″ said Capt. James Chaney, a co-worker. ``I’m numb at this point, for the families and anybody who’s suffering through this.″
Seaside Heights Fire Chief Reece Fisher, who met Lutes when he was a firefighter in the 1980s, said Lutes was devastated by his fiancee’s death a year ago.
``He was able to come back to the job, but who is to say what was going on inside of him?″ Fisher said.
In the Mabie case, acquaintances said the former officer had been tortured by the memory of a 1970 traffic accident in which his station wagon struck a go-cart, killing an 11-year-old boy.
``They’re out of the blue, these things,″ said Pam Meagher, 40, a mother of two. ``Now, you have to worry not only about crazies running around, but also police officers. It’s upsetting.″
On Wednesday, instead of leaving her 10-year-old twins at the school bus stop on her way to work, Meagher asked a neighbor to take them. She may make a regular practice of it now, she said.
``It’s a tragedy of the highest order,″ said William Polhemus, a former Seaside Heights police chief.
The township was already coming to grips with the fact that leukemia, brain cancers and central nervous system cancer all occurred at higher-than-normal rates among the township’s population of about 80,000.
From 1979 to 1995, 90 children in Dover Township were diagnosed with cancer _ 23 cases more than researchers would normally expect to find. A study concluded that there was no single environmental cause for the high cancer rates, however, contaminated well water and chemical plant emissions were linked with some leukemia cases.
On the Net: http://twp.dover.nj.us