Saturday, September 04, 1999

Victim's family thought Covington safer

Man, 24, shot to death 2 weeks after he moved

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — His family urged him to move to Covington to be closer to them. They thought Covington would be safer than Cincinnati. But William L. Billups, 24, was shot and killed early Friday, only two weeks after moving into an apartment at Jacob Price Homes, a housing project on Greenup Street.

        A neighbor coming home from work around the time of the shooting at 3 a.m. said she heard five shots.

        “Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom,” Velma McClendon said. “Then when I got here, he was lying on the ground face up. His eyes were shut and there was no move ment.”

        There was a hole in his temple, she said.

        Police said Friday they have a suspect and a possible motive but would not release information on either.

        They do not think the shooting was drug- or gang-related.

        Mr. Billups was apparently defending his sister, who also lives in the housing project, when he was shot.

        “It sounded like there was a fight out here and somebody showed up with a gun,” said Detective Brett Tate of the Covington Police Department. “It was a trouble call that turned deadly.”

        Mr. Billups' mother is the site manager for Latonia Terrace, another complex in the Covington Housing Authority.

        She had asked her son to move to the Jacob Price complex to be nearer his family, said J.T. Spence, a city commissioner and member of the housing authority board.

        The killing sparked the housing authority to promise increased anti-violence efforts in the neighborhood.

        Officials will be contacting the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to ask for help in finding experts on battling drugs and violence as well as for examples of projects that have worked in other HUD complexes.

        Jacob Price used to be ground zero for the police department's biggest problems on the East Side.

        Police reported earlier this summer, though, that the neighborhood's violent crime statistics had dropped significantly from years past.

        Major crime in the city decreased by more than 14 percent this year over last. Officers attributed much of that downturn to a special detail called Operation Clean Sweep. Patrols were increased, and officials met with residents. Litter was picked up, and buildings were inspected.

        But in the last couple of weeks, violence seemed to be on the rise in the city, Mr. Spence said.

        Detective Tate said he thinks the Jacob Price shooting it is not indicative of an increase in crime in that area.

        “It isn't like there have been a lot of shootings over here in Jacob Price,” he said. “There are a lot of guns, but that's (true) all over the place.

        “Clean Sweep has slowed stuff down. It's been a good program,” Detective Tate said. “(But) if the community takes a blow like that, it's important to show more support and be a lot more attentive.”

        Late Friday afternoon, the only remnant left of the crime scene was a puddle of blood in the grass.

        “He was a perfectly good, young man,” said Lynn Bullard, manager of the property. “The family is a fine family.”


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