Jonathan Michael Gilotti, an Avon native who graduated from Avon High in 2001, died early Tuesday morning in front of his Alabama home. Hoover, Ala., police suspect he was shot by burglars stealing items from unlocked cars in his neighborhood.
Gilotti, 33, a husband and father of two young boys, ages 5 and 1, had gotten up early to go workout at a local gym when he was shot shortly before 5 a.m. He was an Iraq War veteran and Gilotti and his wife, Heather, would have celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary on Monday.
At Avon, Gilotti was a three-sport athlete. He was captain of the football team in 2000 and also participated in wrestling and track and field during his scholastic career.
“He was a great kid,” recalled Avon High wrestling coach John McLaughlin. He coached Gilotti on the freshman football team in 1997 and for three years in the wrestling program. “In football, he was always undersized. He played line and was a smallest lineman. He reminded me of (Notre Dame football walk-on) Rudy (Ruettiger) in that he wasn’t the biggest, strongest or most athletic kid on the team, but always did the right thing and worked hard.”
The movie Rudy portrayed Ruettiger’s struggle to make the Notre Dame football team in the late 1970s as an undersized player.
“I think what speaks volumes about him is that he was made captain of the football team as a senior. He wasn’t made captain because he was the best, but because he was a great leader who out worked everyone else,” McLaughlin said. “Ever since he was a freshman he talked about going into the military. He knew what he wanted to do early on. I think that is the reason that he came out for the wrestling team. He liked the workouts and the physicality of the sport. He also liked the comradery working hard with teammates towards a common goal.”
Gilotti served 15 months in Iraq with the U.S. Army as a tank commander, first lieutenant and platoon leader in the 12th Cavalry Regiment. He was working for State Farm insurance company as a manager in Alabama.
Gilotti is survived by his wife, Heather and their sons, Russell and Kevin; his parents Michael J. and Angela Gilotti; his sisters Lauren and Kristen Gilotti and his aunt Pamela Bender. The family will receive friends on Sunday from 2-3 p.m. at Riverchase United Methodist in Hoover, Alabama. A service will begin at 3 p.m.
Click on the following link to leave an online condolence.
A Go Fund Me initiative has been launched to help support the Gilotti family.
Police in Hoover, Alabama are continuing their investigation.
Additional links to coverage of the shooting.