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Neighbors often complained about Apollo Beach man killed Thursday

APOLLO BEACH - Wednesday night, Brian and Carol Bellew sent an email to the Del Webb Southshore Falls homeowner's association, complaining about John Gallik, their neighbor across the street. "His behavior was getting progressively worse," said Brian Bellew on Friday afternoon. "We told them we were going to go to the media if they didn't do something." Gallik had been "harassing" neighbors, Bellew said. "He threatened to kill people. He called people names and cursed at them." The day after sending the email, Brian Bellew was in his yard at about 6 p.m. when he heard a gunshot. He looked across the street and saw Gallik, 52, of 119 Silver Falls Drive, fall to the ground.
Another neighbor, David Cockerham, was standing over Gallik, said Bellew said. "I saw him put his gun in his pocket and pick up his cell phone to call deputies," said Bellew. "I heard him say, 'I shot my neighbor.'" Deputies say Cockerham, 57, was walking his dog on the sidewalk of the cul de sac of the gated community. When he passed in front of Gallik's home, Cockerham's dog became startled and knocked over a sign that was partially blocking the sidewalk, said Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office spokesman Larry McKinnon. When Cockerham tried to move the sign out of the way and control his dog, Gallik came out of his home and charged at his neighbor, yelling profanities, McKinnon said. Cockerham stepped backward and Gallik pulled a knife from his right pocket, McKinnon said. Gallik waved and thrust the knife at Cockerham and threatened to cut his throat, McKinnon said. Gallik kept waving the knife and again charged at Cockerham, McKinnon said. Cockerham pulled a .38 caliber revolver from his right front pocket and fired once, hitting Gallik in the upper torso, McKinnon said. Cockerham was released by deputies, pending an investigating and final ruling by the State Attorney's Office, McKinnon said. A woman answering the phone at Cockerham's house on Friday declined comment. Days before the incident, the homeowner's association filed an injunction against Gallik, who had moved into the property in May 2007. "He makes verbal threats to the Association's agents and members; walks around the community with a white board chained around his neck stating 'Death to Southshore Falls, has strung clothing lines along the front of the property; bathes in the front driveway and in the dwellings gutters to compensate for lack of running water, runs a generator from the front driveway to compensate for lack of working electricity, wanders in the common area allowing his dog to defecate in the middle of the road," according to the injunction. Gallik "is conducting a perpetual garage sale; soliciting food and money donations from neighbors; pounding on the door of an elderly neighbor demanding use of her electricity for his computer; driving his vehicle to the main entrance of the Association to post foul and offensive signs; and instructing his dog to attack neighbors and verbally assaulted neighbors to the point numerous neighbors have called in police out of fear of the man," according to the injunction. The injunction also said that "the police insist such assaults and threats of violence are an association matter not of interest to law enforcement." The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office visited Gallik's home six times since July 2007, with the most recent on Sept. 26. The calls included a suicide attempt on June 5, 2012, and "mentally ill/violent" the day before. Bellew and other residents say in addition to his erratic behavior, Gallik was having other issues. His wife left him and he had been having financial troubles. The utilities had been shut off for several weeks, according to Carol Barchard, a friend who had known him for five years. On Sept. 29, Hillsborough County filed a lien against Gallick for unpaid water/wastewater utility bills, according to county records, which do not specify how much was owed. "Friends had been helping him with food and power," Barchard said, adding that Gallik had been living alone with his dog, a Doberman pinscher, since his wife left. On the night of the shooting, Gallik's driveway was filled with items that neighbors say he would try to sell. "He would sell something, then bring something else out," Bellew said. By Friday afternoon, the driveway was cleared, though a refrigerator was pushed in front of the walkway to the house. A small memorial – flowers, a cross and an American flag – had been placed on the lawn. "I put them there," said Bo Nelsen, who lived next to Gallik. "This didn't have to happen," he said. "Everybody knew there was something wrong with Gallik. The man who shot him didn't have to walk on that side of the street." Gallik also had an ongoing dispute with the homeowner's association and often protested. Wednesday night, he was outside the development with a whiteboard on which he had written, "We allege that discriminatory practices are being used by Dell Webbs South Shore Falls against a disabled American." Holding a sign was not the only method Gallik used to rail against the association. He posted a number of YouTube videos, according to Bellew. In one, a Doberman pinscher with a bandana is seen in a car, with a voice complaining about the "tyranny and Nazi oppression that permeates the society here at Southshore Falls luxury retirement community." The video pans around the street. "Please send your donations, ladies and gentlemen, to 119 Silver Falls Drive, where freedom lives," says the voice on the video. On Sept. 21, Gallik was cited by county officials because his dog was not registered and did not having current rabies' vaccine, according to court records. He was scheduled to have a court hearing on Nov. 30. Gallik also used YouTube to tout a device designed to reduce the fatigue motorcycle riders experience from using the throttle. Claiming to hold a patent for the device, Gallik and his device were endorsed by several veterans groups, according to his Linkedin profile. "He was a veteran who started an organization to help veterans with motorcycles, said John Lewandowski, founder and chairman of the board of the Disabled Veterans Committee on Housing. "It was something positive for injured vets, that's why I endorsed him," said Lewandowski, whose organization is based in Virginia. Gallik's device, he said, "is very worthwhile and could help veterans regain independence. I am 100 percent behind it. Lewandowski said he didn't know what branch Gallik served with or when.

haltman@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7629
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