Bereaved Husband: Police Should Fight Crime Like They Fight Terror

The husband of a woman killed Monday in a gangland shooting in Bat Yam called on the government yesterday to fight crime as ardently as it fights terror.

"If it had been an Arab terrorist, they would have killed him," said Alexander Lautin, whose wife Margarita, 31, was killed in front of him and their two children - Sapir, 5, and Guy, 2 - when she was struck down in the midst of an apparent attempt to assassinate a reputed criminal at a beachside restaurant. Margarita, known to her family as Rita, sustained critical gunshot wounds to the chest and was evacuated to Wolfson Medical Center in Holon after resuscitation efforts on the beach failed.

She was buried at the Yehud cemetery at 6:30 P.M. yesterday.

"But because it's a crime family, the police aren't doing anything," said Lautin. "The police were at the scene of the incident, the criminals are known to the police - they get interviewed, they're famous, they're glorified, and I don't understand why they don't treat crime like they treat terrorism."

Police have arrested two suspects in the shooting.

Lautin doesn't know whether his 2-year-old son realizes his mother is dead, but said he overheard his daughter, Sapir, telling people yesterday morning that her mother had been shot.

"Two-year-old Guy doesn't speak yet," said Lautin. "I don't know what he understands and what he absorbs, but 5-year-old Sapir saw it all and understands it all. She woke up this morning and the first sentence she said to me was, 'Daddy, do you remember that Mommy was full of blood?' She saw Rita hit next to me and falling, and my feet colored by her mother's blood, and she told me, 'Daddy, you're bleeding.' At the beach, she said, 'A bad man shot my mommy,' and this morning I heard her speaking to people and saying, 'They shot my mommy.'"

Alexander moved from Ukraine to Israel at 16, and Margarita immigrated when she was 12.

The two met at a hostel for the elderly in Yehud, where she worked as a social worker and were married in 2003.

The walls of the Lautin home are full of family photos, but there are few pictures of the entire family because one of the parents was usually holding the camera. That's why the Lautins asked a passerby Monday to take a family photo - but Lautin had no idea it would end up plastered on the front page of Israel's newspapers the next day.

"It was always one of us taking the picture, so the photos don't include all of us," said Lautin. "This time we asked a woman passing by on the beach a few minutes before the murder to take a picture of all of us. I didn't know that would be the last picture."

Lautin had infinite patience yesterday for the hordes of journalists swarming his home, saying it was important that he speak to the press and show pictures of his children so that people "understand what a beautiful and wonderful family was destroyed here, in the hope that the death of my wife Rita will shake up the system and arouse public awareness."

"I want it to be that just as an entire country suffers and counts [the days since the abduction of captive soldier] Gilad Shalit, so, too, the country should count how many days pass until the police capture the brutes and bring to justice all those responsible for this murder," he said.

However, Lautin limited his family's exposure to the media, sending his children to his brother's house while reporters interviewed him and closing the funeral to the press.

"We want privacy," he said. "To be alone with the pain."