Shooting Spree Cop Found Dead

Dover Township Police Chief Michael Mastronardy, left, speaks during news conference about five people who were shot to death Tuesday in Dover Township, N.J., Wednesday, April 10, 2002. A gunman went on a shooting rampage at two homes, killing five people and wounding a sixth, before fleeing, police said. Ocean County Executive Assistant Prosecutor Gregory Sakowicz, center, looks on. AP

A police officer killed himself after shooting to death five people and wounding his boss, shocking a community still reeling from an almost identical rampage in February.

The latest shootings happened a mile away from where a former police officer allegedly went from house to house killing four people.

"To do something like that, they snap," said resident Karen Picht, who accompanied her 12-year-old daughter to a bus stop Wednesday morning because she was concerned about her safety.

Edward Lutes, 42, was found dead in his car in the driveway of a Barnegat Township home about 10 a.m. Wednesday. Police said the Seaside Heights policeman killed five neighbors and shot his boss Tuesday night.

"There was a great deal of acrimony between Mr. Lutes and his neighbors," said Greg Sakowicz, the executive assistant Ocean County prosecutor. "Certainly, it wasn't a random shooting."

Dover Township Police Chief Michael Mastronardy said Lutes and a neighbor were involved in an Oct. 30 criminal mischief case. Mastronardy would not give details.

Teens who live in the neighborhood said Lutes told them to throw eggs at homes of people he called "enemies."

Sixteen-year-old Christine Woldanski said Lutes said, "If you guys don't do it, I'm going to do it later."

The kids said they didn't throw the eggs.

But 15-year-old Talia Garofano said she saw Lutes throw eggs himself at the side of the home of Dominick and Gail Galliano, who became his victims Tuesday night.

More than 100 police officers searched for 12 hours before Lutes' body was found slumped over in the driver's seat of his car in front of a house apparently chosen at random. Authorities said they did not know how long he had been dead. A handgun and MP5 were found in the car.

Police said Lutes went to the house of neighbors Dominick Galliano, 51, and his wife Gail, 49, killing them with several shots from the MP5. He also shot and killed the couple's son, 25-year-old Christopher.

Lutes then went to another neighbor's home and killed Gary Williams, 48, and his wife Tina Williams, 46, in their house. The couple's son, Robert, jumped out of a window and injured his ankle; police originally thought the 23-year-old man had been shot.

Lutes fled in his car to nearby Barnegat Township and shot Seaside Heights Police Chief James Costello twice in the leg and once in the wrist as he was leaving his house after hearing about the shootings, police said.

Costello was taken to Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune, where he was in satisfactory condition. From his hospital room Wednesday, Costello said he could not explain the rampage.

"I really don't know. He's a very close friend of mine," Costello said.

Acquaintances of the five slain people said both families were kind.

The Galliano family always had the best Halloween candy and always bought Girl Scout cookies, said Cara Reilly, 20.

Neighbors said the Williams family was quick to share a car pool for neighborhood kids and that their son, who survived the attack, worked at a local grocery store.

Seaside Heights Fire Chief Reece Fisher, who met Lutes when he was a firefighter in the 1980s, said Lutes was devastated last year when his girlfriend died in a car accident.

"He was able to come back to the job, but who is to say what was going on inside of him," Fisher said.

Neighbors stood outside the yellow police tape surrounding Lutes' beige, two-story house and speculated about what could have gone wrong.

Lutes lived with his 12-year-old daughter and other family members, neighbors said.

Friends described Lutes as a good police officer who took pride in his work. But some neighbors said Lutes was a disciplinarian, setting strict rules about when children in his house could eat snacks, how they could wash their hands and what toys they could play with.

"He'd stand with his mean face just watering his lawn like he was having a bad, bad day, always," Reilly said.

As a child, Reilly and her friends would avoid riding their bicycles past Lutes' home after Lutes yelled at a boy for crashing a bike into the back of his pickup truck, she said.

Thomas Aballo, a Toms River lawyer who represented Lutes and his father in separate bankruptcy filings several years ago, said the shootings took him by surprise.

Several years ago, Lutes discussed with Aballo problems he had with a department supervisor, Aballo said. Lutes did not pursue any legal action against the police, he said.

"During the time I knew him ... I would have absolutely no indication that he was capable of anything of this nature," Aballo said. "I never got the indication of anything but a dedicated officer and an overall good guy."

On Feb. 21, former Newark police officer John E. Mabie allegedly killed his granddaughter and three neighbors in the community with a .38-caliber revolver.

"It's a tragedy of the highest order," said William Polhemes, a former Seaside Heights police chief who knew Edward Lutes when he started as a summer officer.
  • Francie Grace

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