Saturday, January 3, 2004

Killing on busy street

By Dan Horn and Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] There were numerous witnesses to a chase and shooting in broad daylight Friday afternoon.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
OVER-THE-RHINE - Cincinnati's first homicide victim of 2004 was shot and killed Friday afternoon as he tried to run away from his attacker on a busy Over-the-Rhine street.

The mid-afternoon shooting came just days after police and city officials vowed to seek new ways to lower the homicide rate, which has gone up each of the past five years. Cincinnati had 75 homicides in 2003, the most in 26 years.

Police and witnesses said the victim was shot several times as he ran from Pleasant Street onto West Liberty Street about 3:30 p.m. Police had not released his name late Friday.

Pedestrians scrambled for cover and drivers swerved to avoid the victim, who crumpled to the pavement and died in the street.

Even after one of Over-the-Rhine's most violent years, witnesses said they were stunned by the audacity of an attack in broad daylight in front of dozens of people. Over-the-Rhine was the neighborhood with the most homicides in 2003, with 10.

"When is this going to end?" said James Owens, a maintenance worker who saw the shooting as he ate lunch at KFC across the street. "The police have got to do something."

Delicia Eddington stood just outside the crime scene tape, tears running down her face. She'd come to the KFC lot to pick up her baby's father, David Brown. Brown's friends told her he was the one who lay dead in the street.

"He just called me and said he wanted me to pick him up," she said. "We were gonna go out to dinner and then probably watch cable. We just got it hooked up today."

Brown, 29, didn't have a gun, she said, but he knows plenty of people who do. The couple lived together in Mount Airy. Their 16-month-old son is David Jr., named for his father.

"Please, Lord," Eddington said, "please let it not be him."

Police spokesman Lt. Anthony Carter said an off-duty police officer ran to the scene after hearing the first shot and saw a man in a gray ski cap and black coat fleeing down an alley.

He would not say whether police know a motive for the shooting. Police said the victim did not appear to be armed.

Carter said police were disappointed that the beginning of the new year already has been marred by the same kind of violence that made 2003 the city's most murderous year in a quarter-century.

"Even worse is the mindset of an individual who on a fairly pleasant winter day, with kids all around, would engage in this type of activity," Carter said. He said investigators hope the public nature of the shooting makes it easier for them to solve the crime.

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