Residents Concerned Following Shooting in Bellaire
BELLAIRE — Some Bellaire residents and shop workers are speaking out about a Sunday shooting death in the village, and some are concerned about a perceived uptick in crime in the area.
Police are investigating the fatal shooting that occurred in West Bellaire, but Police Chief Mike Kovalyk responded to messages seeking information on the case by saying he was out of town and not available to discuss the matter Tuesday. Brad McGarry, 43, of Wagner Avenue reportedly was found dead on the floor of his basement after police responded to a call at 6:15 p.m. Sunday.
Bellaire Goodwill thrift store Manager Callie Cox said there has been an increase in crime, especially theft.
“This is definitely cause for concern. We’ve been seeing some scary things going on at the Goodwill — people watching us when we bring our deposits out to the bank,” Cox said. “My mom grew up here in Bellaire, and the crime has definitely gotten worse. There has been a problem with people stealing from stores at the plaza.”
Bellaire resident Candy Smith said she lives “right down the road” from the site of the shooting.
“My reaction was pretty much, ‘Wow, that’s not very far from my house,'” Smith said. “I think it’s crazy what happened, but I don’t feel like I can’t go back out of my house. It’s going to happen. Stuff happens everywhere.”
Frizzi Customs electronics repair shop Manager Benji Littell is a lifelong resident of Bellaire. He said his wife’s parents were neighbors of McGarry.
“I’m really not concerned that much about this. I have faith in our police department that they will catch whoever did this,” Littell said. “I don’t fear for my life or anything.”
Littell said Bellaire has “gone downhill” since he was in high school.
“I don’t know what it is from, but I definitely see more crime here now than I have in the past,” Littell added. “But I was born and raised here. I want my kids to go to the same school I went to, and my wife teaches at the school. I’m a hometown guy.”
Shaila Johnson is employed as a hairdresser at Turning Heads Hair Studio. She said she has cut McGarry’s hair for the past couple of years.
“I used to cut his hair. It is such a tragedy. It is terrible. He was such a great guy. We are scared now. Bellaire is scared. We can’t even trust anybody … ,” Johnson said. “I hope they find who did it.”
Belmont County Sheriff Dave Lucas on Tuesday said his department is involved in the investigation, but he referred questions to Kovalyk.
Jill Del Greco, spokeswoman for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, said the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s crime scene squad did assist in collecting evidence at the house. However, she said the Bellaire Police Department would have to make specific comments about the case.
“Upon request we have agents stationed throughout the state who respond. They come in and analyze a scene and collect evidence to be submitted to the crime lab for analysis and testing, and otherwise returned to local authorities,” Del Greco added.