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Carlsbad residents grill police on safety after woman brutally murdered

Carlsbad safety meeting
Posted at 12:13 AM, Mar 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-21 07:31:55-04

CARLSBAD, Calif. (KGTV) - Hundreds of people packed into a classroom in Carlsbad Wednesday night, concerned about community safety in the wake of a brutal murder.

More than 200 people showed up. Many were forced to listen from the hallway because the room was so crowded.

“We don’t feel as safe as we used to,” said Carlsbad resident Charlie Christenson about why he came to the meeting.

“I thought it was great to have the forum,” he added.

It came more than a week after 64-year-old Marj Gawitt was stabbed to death in her home on Outrigger Lane, a development overlooking the Agua Hedionda Lagoon.

Two transients were arrested and charged in the murder. Prosecutors say Gawitt was stabbed 50 times and tortured. Still, she managed to call 911 herself and alert police about her assailants.

“I’ve been a police officer in Carlsbad for over 28 years, and to my knowledge this is the firs time in that particular community a crime like that has happened,” said Carlsbad police Chief Neil Gallucci.

For two hours, Gallucci and other top police officials fielded questions from residents about the murder and the lingering safety concerns it has brought about.

Christenson said he came to ask the chief one question.

“I asked him if there were any changes to outreach or enforcement in response to this issue and he said no,” said Christenson. “That was disappointing.”

But Gallucci said the meeting itself was necessary to get a feel for the issues.

“I think having this meeting was a big step forward,” he said.

He wanted to explain to the crowd how they respond to calls and what resources they have to do it. He also emphasized the rare nature of the attack.

“We know when a crime like this happens people are worried about things that never have happened in their community before,” said the chief.