Memorial held for Giliberti Grandmother ‘definitely had cause to be concerned,’ DA said

By on December 30, 2013


PATRICK BURNS Record Express Staff

, Staff Writer

Family and friends said good-bye to David P. Giliberti Saturday night in a candlelight ceremony at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster.

Giliberti, 22, died Dec. 21 at his grandmother’s home on Arrowhead Drive after a police confrontation ended with multiple gunshots to his chest.

Friends remain baffled as to how the person they knew as kind and compassionate had threatened a police officer with a knife just minutes after Giliberti’s actions compelled his grandmother to call for police help.

The Lancaster County District Attorney’s office on Dec. 22 released Giliberti’s name after initially withholding it.

The DA’s office the next day reported that 23-year veteran Lititz Police officer Joel Hartz had shot Giliberti as the young man charged the officer with a knife.

"It was very shocking to me," said Giliberti’s friend Caleb Fetter of New Holland.

David’s friends and family echoed a passage from his obituary that noted he "enjoyed playing guitar and seeing all the unique and beautiful pictures he took. A kindred spirit, David made people laugh and easily made friends with those he met."

Fetter developed a strong bond as Giliberti’s classmate and as part of an inseparable group that pursued an education in graphic communications and printing technology.

"He was always very positive, always caring toward other people," Fetter said.

Fetter’s wife Michelle had also become close with Giliberti, along with Randy Hess (also a 2012 Thaddeus Steven graduate).

Caleb and Michelle helped arrange Saturday’s memorial with Chad Baker of Thaddeus Stevens.

Small groups — assembled among the 50 people who attended Giliberti’s memorial — hoisted several flying lanterns into the sky on Saturday evening.

Hess said he remembered Giliberti, a 2009 Warwick High School graduate, most for his aptitude and intellect.

"The thing I remember about David was he was very intelligent — a smart guy all around," Hess said. Giliberti topped the Thaddeus Stevens dean’s list during his time spent in the two-year program from 2011-12.

He said Giliberti was "not an extrovert" and was "really quiet to those who didn’t know him."

"But obviously that was an entirely different situation to those close to him," Hess said.

Those close to him knew "he didn’t have a bad thing to say about anyone," Hess said. "As a matter of fact when conversations went that way, he would just not participate or change the subject."

Friends say Giliberti was diagnosed as bipolar, but no one remembered issues with his medications or even seeing medication in his Thaddeus Steven dorm room.

Giliberti had been affected by a breakup with his girlfriend around the time of his graduation in May 2012, friends said.

Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman on Sunday addressed some of the questions gleaned from the press release from Lititz Police the day after the shooting.

An autopsy on Dec. 23 confirmed Giliberti died from gunshot wounds to the chest, but no official count of the shots will be released until the investigation is completed.

That will take several weeks, when toxicology tests return, Stedman said.

As per police protocol, Hartz has been placed on paid administrative leave.

Stedman clarified that the shooting had taken place inside the Arrowhead Drive home, though the circumstances of how Hartz entered the home remains unclear (whether he responded to something, or if someone answered the door for him).

It appears that Lititz Police had no previous encounters with Giliberti or had knowledge of his emotional problems before officer Hartz arrived at the home at about 3:21 a.m., Stedman said in an email response.

"I do not believe the officer knew anything about him, but will confirm," Stedman wrote Sunday.

Also unknown is what Giliberti’s grandmother specifically communicated to the 9-1-1 operator.

The report is unclear whether Giliberti’s grandmother feared for her safety or worried about Giliberti harming himself.

Some assumed that Giliberti had threatened his grandmother last week, based on comments made on the Record Express Facebook page.

But the police release states only that the 9-1-1 caller "needed the police at her home" and that a female "needed help with her grandson."

Stedman explained Sunday that "She was concerned enough by his behavior to believe it was appropriate to call the police. She definitely had cause to be concerned."

He said the final report would provide more details of what compelled Giliberti’s grandmother to call police, as well as other questions posed by the Record Express about the police report.

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