Neighbors Quarrel Ends with Man Shot

By Tamas Mondovics

October 2012, marks the second anniversary of the  shooting death of 41-year-old Iraq war veteran David James of Valrico, who was gunned down in front of his then 8-year-old daughter.

The incident, which was the result of a dispute between residents over a teen skateboarding at the local basketball court, is by no means an isolated case and continues to raise the question of gun safety along with the often controversial topic of taking matters into one’s own had.

Such a topic surfaced once again just last month following an incident that left one local man dead and the other scared for taking a life.

After working through the crime scene, conducting numerous interviews and collecting evidence, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office homicide detectives concluded that on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at approximately 6 pm, Apollo Beach resident David Cockerham of 110 Silver Falls Dr. was out walking his dog along the sidewalk on Silver Falls Dr.

Detectives said that while passing the front of his neighbor, John Gallik’s, residence at 119 Silver Falls Dr., Cockerham’s dog became startled and knocked over a sign that was partially blocking the sidewalk.

As Cockerham, 68, attempted to move the sign out of the way and control his pet, Gallik, 53, came out of his home and began yelling profanities and subsequently charging toward Cockerham, detectives said.

As it was also reported, Cockerham took a step backwards in order to create distance when suddenly Gallik retrieved a butterfly knife from his right pocket, elevating the confrontation to a whole new level.

Gallik reportedly then began thrusting and waving the knife towards Cockerham while threatening to cut Cockerham’s throat.

Cockerham, who in fear for his life, retrieved a 38 caliber revolver from his right front pocket and fired a single round towards Gallik.

Gallik was struck in the upper torso and died at the scene, detectives said.

Cockerham immediately contacted 911 and waited at the scene for deputies to arrive but was not charged with any crime and has since been released pending the completion of the investigation. Final ruling by the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office, may take several weeks.

As to gun ownership, in an earlier interview, HCSO District 4 Community Resource Officer Curtis Warren drew attention to the law.

“Owning a gun is a personal preference,” Warren said. “In Florida, to carry a gun is allowed as long as it is in a zippered or snapped holster. In the car a gun must be kept under the seat or in the glove box.”

For more information please visit www.hcso.tampa.fl.us.