Sunday, January 10, 1999

Questions surround nightclub killing




BY TANYA BRICKING
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[jerry gilbert]
Jerry
Gilbert
[carolyn gilbert]
Carolyn Gilbert
        An hour before a security guard was shot to death inside Club Oasis early Jan. 1, three patrons reported to police that they had been shot at in the parking lot.

        Cincinnati police responded to the Roselawn nightclub and found a large crowd of partygoers but no sign of a gunman.

        Now, Cincinnati homicide investigators are trying to determine whether the first shooting was related to the slaying of guard Jerry Gilbert.

        The death of Mr. Gilbert, 50, of Cheviot, made CNN Headline News that morning as the nation's first homicide of 1999. Cincinnati investigators have made no arrests.

        “We want to cover every base,” said Sgt. Anthony Carter, a Cincinnati homicide supervisor.

        Robyn Roberts, who talked to 911 that morning, wonders whether her base was missed.

        Gunshots rang in the new year for Ms. Roberts and her boyfriend.

        They were leaving the club at about 3 a.m. when a group of men approached their truck and fired.

        Police stopped by the club and went on to take the report at the boyfriend's house nearby.

        That left the nightclub's three security guards on hand when more gunfire broke out. This time, one of their own was hit. A hollow-point bullet tore through Mr. Gilbert's chest. He was not wearing a protective vest.

        By then, police communications received its fourth call of the night regarding shots fired at the club. Ms. Roberts and her friends had called the first three times.

        At 4:11 a.m., it was one of Mr. Gilbert's fellow security guards: “I'm at Oasis. I've got a man down!” he shouted.

Restless widow
        The hours since that cold night have passed slowly for Mr. Gilbert's widow.

        Hearing that there was warning of someone at the club having a gun only makes Carolyn Gilbert more restless.

        “I'm still in the anger stage,” said Mrs. Gilbert, 51. “There's so many questions.”

        She wishes the other security guards could have done something or that Cincinnati officers had stayed on the scene.

        It appears the officers did everything expected of them, Sgt. Carter said. The club had its own security and was running smoothly when police arrived.

        Mrs. Gilbert learned of the shooting after waking just after 5 a.m. on New Year's Day. She sat down with a cup of coffee and flipped on the television. A news flash came on about a security guard being shot to death.

        It couldn't be Jerry, she thought. He didn't tell me he was working at that club last night.

        But a friend called with the news that Mr. Gilbert was dead.

Hurt and angry
        Ms. Roberts, 34, of Atlanta, was visiting her boyfriend in Cincinnati for the New Year's Eve party.

        Mr. Gilbert had even greeted them at the door, telling them how sharp they looked. Ms. Roberts wore a long brown dress and a mink.

        When they left at about 3 a.m., several men in hooded bubble coats approached them and banged on the truck. One opened fire, shattering two windows and just missing Ms. Roberts.

        Her biggest frustration is that she didn't think police took her and her friends seriously enough in their three calls to 911.

        “We've got two officers out here questioning us and telling us that we're lying,” she said in her last call to 911 at 4:05 a.m.

        Six minutes later, back at Club Oasis, Mr. Gilbert lay dying.

        Police cannot say whether other actions might have saved Mr. Gilbert's life. Ms. Roberts doesn't know either.

        But the killing has left her scared and angry.

        “I can't bring that lady's husband back,” she said. “But maybe this didn't have to go as far as it did.”

       



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