Friday, October 1, 2004

Woman, 49, killed in car chase


Suspect in purse snatchings captured after Norwood wreck

By Michael D. Clark
Enquirer staff writer

[photo]
Norwood police investigate the scene of a fatal car wreck Thursday, at Ross and Section avenues. It occurred after a chase involving several police departments. A suspect is being held in the Hamilton County jail.
The Enquirer/GARY LANDERS
NORWOOD - A purse-snatching suspect led police on a chase Wednesday that ended when the suspect crashed into another car, killing a Kennedy Heights woman.

About 2:15 p.m., officers from Norwood, Cincinnati, Elmwood Place and St. Bernard were chasing Christopher Steven Justice, a 33-year-old suspect in a series of violent robberies this week around Greater Cincinnati.

A motorist's tip prompted police from the four communities to converge on Justice's pickup truck at Ivanhoe Avenue and Montgomery Road, where the chase began.

Shortly before, Justice was suspected of stealing another woman's purse along Dana Avenue in Evanston.

Police chased the stolen pickup truck for more than five miles through Norwood.

At Section and Ross avenues, it struck a car driven by Kathy Ballard, 49, of the 6200 block of Robison Avenue.

Justice, who was uninjured and unarmed, ran from Norwood officers.

But he was caught and subdued a block away with Tasers.

Cincinnati Police Chief Thomas Streicher said Ballard's death was the responsibility of a suspect who has a history of violent robberies here and outside of Ohio.

"It's not the fact that police were pursuing someone that led to this tragedy, but the decision by a suspect to elude police," said Streicher. "He is wanted in South Carolina and Florida, and he has a reputation as a pretty violent person."

On Wednesday in Harrison, police said, Justice was identified by a 77-year-old woman whose purse was taken from a shopping cart while she was in the parking lot of Bigg's Hypermarket on New Haven Road.

Police said Justice drove off in the same stolen pickup truck he used earlier this week in other robberies.

Police said they found a number of purses in Justice's pickup truck.

Both Norwood and Cincinnati Police officials said it is standard policy to review police chases, regardless of the outcome, and that a review of the pursuit of Justice will be begin shortly to assure officers followed proper procedure.

Justice had been the subject of a high-profile manhunt in Greater Cincinnati after he grabbed the purse of an elderly woman in the Sam's Warehouse parking lot in Oakley.

Police said he drove close to her in the parking lot and reached out, knocking her to the ground. The incident was caught on a store video camera.

Justice was questioned by Norwood Police, then transferred to the Hamilton County Justice Center on Thursday evening.

He is being held on three counts of strong-arm robbery but likely will face further charges in connection with Ballard's death.

E-mail mclark@enquirer.com




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