Monday, December 8, 1997
Argument preceded shooting
Killer knew two were officers

The Cincinnati Enquirer

The McArton family of Florence adds a bouquet Sunday to the Cincinnati Police Memorial on Ezzard Charles Drive. Jeni McArton's daughters are Anny, 3, left, and Carly, 5.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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The two plainclothes Cincinnati police officers shot to death early Saturday had identified themselves as police officers when they entered a Clifton Heights apartment to make a warrant arrest.

But a conversation quickly turned into a confrontation when Alonzo Davenport, 20, pulled out a gun and shot one officer and struggled with the other before firing at him. Officer Daniel Pope, 35, and Specialist Ronald Jeter, 34, lay dying as Mr. Davenport fled and committed suicide a few blocks away, sources said Sunday.

Four people were in the apartment on West Hollister Street when police arrived to arrest Mr. Davenport on a felony domestic-violence charge.

Besides Mr. Davenport, his friends Marvin Jones and Angela Mills and a 14-year-old girl also were there. Mr. Davenport's girlfriend, Alana Strother, 20, the mother of one of his two toddler daughters, lived in the apartment but was not home at the time of the shooting. She stormed off after a fight with Mr. Davenport on Thursday night, family members said.

Mr. Jones answered the door late Friday and let police into the living room before they were each shot at close range in the back of the head. Their guns were still in their holsters.

Daniel Pope
Ronald Jeter
''The one thing that is clear is that their badges were displayed,'' police spokesman Lt. Tim Schoch said. ''It was clear they were Cincinnati police officers and identified themselves as such.''

Mr. Davenport's mother, Janelle ''Nellie'' Davenport, said Mr. Jones told her it happened this way: Her son was in the bedroom playing Nintendo when there was a knock on the door.

''Marvin opened the door, and they asked who was selling the weed,'' she said. Mr. Jones let them in, and the officers went to apprehend her son, and a fight broke out. It ended with her son killing the officers.

After the shootings, everyone fled the apartment except Mr. Jones, who called 911 at 11:59 p.m.: ''I see two undercover cops laying in front of my face, dead,'' he told a dispatcher. ''They dead, man.''

Moments later, other plainclothes police - unaware of the shootings - spotted Mr. Davenport running with a gun, Lt. Schoch said.

Alonzo Davenport
They chased him into a small park a few blocks from his apartment. He put his gun to his head and pulled the trigger. Someone placed a rose Sunday atop the bloodstained spot where he died.

Someone else spray-painted ''Lonnie RIP'' on buildings near his family's home.

Mr. Jones faces no criminal charges. But Ms. Mills, nicknamed ''Oleo,'' and the 14-year-old girl, a Taft High School freshman, are charged with failing to report a crime, a misdemeanor.

Ms. Mills, who was in the Hamilton County jail over the weekend on a $25,000 bond, called her mother Saturday. She told her she ran because she was scared.

''Angela said one of the cops who was dying made eye contact,'' said her mother, Alethena Mills, 41, of Walnut Hills. ''I hope that didn't mess her up. She got scared and ran, went home.''

The 14-year-old went home, as well, said the girl's mother. She said her daughter is behaviorally disabled and has a juvenile record that includes curfew violations and breaking and entering. Her daughter told her she didn't know the officers were dead when she left.

Investigation continues

The sequence of events should become clearer with the police investigation.

horse officers
Officers Monica Gaynor,left, and Paul Glindmeyer pay tribute to their slain colleagues at the memorial Sunday.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
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The probe will examine whether radio communication and emergency response to the shootings were handled properly, Lt. Schoch said.

According to police records, a 911 dispatcher learned about the shootings at 11:59 p.m., and the suicide was reported at 12:03 a.m. One log reports that officers were on the scene at 12:10 a.m., but a dispatch log indicates that fire - rescue personnel did not arrive on Hollister Street until 12:47 a.m.

''For the next few days, our resources will be focused on honoring and paying tribute to these officers,'' Lt. Schoch said. After that, investigators will come up with a timeline of events and determine whether procedures were followed properly, he said.

Authorities also are awaiting results of the coroner's report and forensics and ballistics tests.

Whatever the outcome, the officers deserve praise, Lt. Schoch said.

''The officers were working hard,'' he said. ''It was cold. They were out protecting the community. They clearly are heroes.'' In each of the five police districts, officers rode double Sunday instead of patrolling alone.

''It's to allow the officers the opportunity to discuss their feelings and come to terms with the deaths of their fellow officers,'' Lt. Schoch said.

Even in tragedy, there is some hope, City Manager John Shirey said. ''One of the few good things that comes out of something like this is that these people who suffer losses rediscover that they have a very large family,'' he said, ''a city family.''

Outpouring of support

At downtown's St. Peter in Chains Cathedral, where Officer Pope's funeral will be held Wednesday, parishioners at a Sunday Mass offered a prayer for the slain officers.

Rae Nogueira, wife of a police detective, lights a candle at the memorial.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
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Officer Phil Penn stood in uniform in the back of church and remembered them. Just after Spc. Jeter joined the force, he was Officer Penn's third-shift partner.

He remembered Spc. Jeter - who was 5-foot-2 and about 150 pounds - as a small but mighty hero who worked out constantly.

''Pound for pound, he's probably one of the strongest guys on the force,'' he said. ''He was very disciplined in everything he did. I hate to say it was just Ron's bad day, but it could have been any of us, any day. It could have been me.''

The personal cars of the slain officers still sat in the District 5 parking lot Sunday. Just the sight of their belongings moved officers to tears.

It was a painful sight, too, at the police memorial across from downtown police headquarters on Ezzard Charles Drive. Dozens of mourners left flowers, cards and trinkets.

Police felt the outpouring of concern as the public visited and called throughout the weekend offering donations and services such as professional counseling.

''I was over there by the memorial, and that's a rough place to stand,'' Lt. Schoch said. ''You get over there and you start seeing the names of officers killed. It really makes your stomach turn over. Everybody's basically leaning on each other for strength.''

Today's report

Tragedy puts face on job Cliff Radel column
Families lean on faith, memories
Funeral services
Friends, acquaintances mourn
Grief stays, say families who know
Police deaths declining

Sunday's report

Community mourns fallen officers
Suspect's family: He was 'respectful'
Sequence of events
Officers highly regarded
Officers deal with sorrow, job's risks
Chief's message: 'Take care of each other'
Hollister St. residents shocked