Photo courtesy of John Lyda
Lake Cyrus community meeting 1-6-16
More than 200 people showed up for a meeting of the Lake Cyrus Home Owners Association at Brock's Gap Intermediate School on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, after a resident was shot to death the day before.
Lake Cyrus residents gathered Wednesday evening to discuss the next steps for their community following a fatal shooting Tuesday morning.
More than 200 people crowded into the cafeteria at Brock's Gap Intermediate School for a members-only meeting of the Lake Cyrus Home Owners Association to discuss security measures for individuals and the neighborhood as a whole.
Early Tuesday morning, Mike Gilotti, a 33-year-old husband and father of two young children, was shot and killed in front of his home as he was leaving for the gym. There were at least 10 car burglaries that occurred that night on Gilotti’s street, Park Side Circle, and police are investigating a connection between the burglaries and the shooting.
Resident Maureen Lazarus said the meeting was a good general meeting for the neighborhood and allowed everyone to discuss options. The importance of communication was evident, she said.
“We need to get more friendly with our neighbors,” Lazarus said.
Members of Hoover Police Department were present at the meeting as well, including Chief Nick Derzis and Officer Brian Hale. Derzis updated the community on the case during the meeting, including the recovery of a suspect vehicle in Bessemer.
“Of course we take this very personal, and as far as the Police Department, we’re doing everything we can to solve this crime,” Derzis said. “Our crime scene people were at the office when I left the office late this afternoon, still combing through some things that were hopefully touched in the vehicle.”
Derzis said Hoover police plan to increase patrols in the Lake Cyrus area to make sure community members feel safe.
Resident Kim Thompson said the meeting was a somber one. The community has come together in the tragedy, she said, and she plans to attend future meetings where security options will be discussed.
“I think we have taken the first steps,” she said.
Forming a neighborhood watch was one topic in the meeting, and Thompson said while she believes the individual streets within Lake Cyrus are connected, the neighborhood as a whole is not. Hale answered questions about a neighborhood watch, which he said boils down to people knowing their neighbors.
Residents often are more apt to identify suspicious activity or a person who seems out of place within their neighborhood than even police officers who patrol the area, Hale said.
Neighborhood watch meetings also emphasize how individuals can “target harden” their homes, meaning taking precautions to decrease their chance of being targeted for a crime, which can help ward off criminals, Hale said.
“A lot of times it just boils down to keeping items out of plain view in your vehicles … lock your doors, turn your lights on,” Hale said,“because a lot of times with these car burglars, if there’s nothing in there to see and the door is locked, they’re just going to move on to the next house. And hopefully if everybody is doing that, they’ll just work their way out of the neighborhood and go on to another place.”
Marc-Cameron Kossow, whose family has two estates near the front of the neighborhood, said he hopes future meetings will help get everyone on the same page. He said there was discussion of several options at the meeting, including outsourcing security.
“We’ll have to see if that can fit within our budget, and if it can, go ahead and implement it,” Kossow said.
Kossow’s area of the neighborhood is gated, he said, and while he feels comforted by that measure, police discussed how a gate cannot fully prevent crime.
Aside from conversations about gates or technological security measures, resident Steve McClinton said he felt the neighborhood could benefit from forming a neighborhood watch and the awareness that comes with it.
“There is no technology that is going to solve it — no gate or that sort of stuff,” McClinton said. “There’s no quick fix. No technology would have stopped what happened.”
McClinton also said that Derzis emphasized that calling 9-1-1 about a concern is not a bother to the police. McClinton said he appreciated that police were there to answer community questions.
Hale said he looks forward to future meetings with the community and hopes tonight’s meeting offered productive ideas.
“[It’s] an absolute tragedy, but I think that everybody is going to be more aware and maybe something good can come of this,” he said.