Thursday, November 09, 2000

Suspect in shoplifting grabbed cop's gun

By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A shoplifting suspect was shot to death by Cincinnati police Wednesday afternoon after fleeing a Pleasant Ridge grocery store and firing an officer's gun he grabbed during a struggle.

        Police have not yet positively identified the man.

[photo] Police investigators look over the scene along Orion Avenue in Pleasant Ridge where a man was fatally shot.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
| ZOOM |
        Sgt. Andre Smith and Officers Frederick Gilmer and Timothy Pappas chased the man behind the IGA on Montgomery Road through some back yards on Orion Avenue.

        At some point, the suspect grabbed one of the officers' guns and fired it. Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher said at a press conference late Wednesday that Officer Pappas was shot in the edge of his hand and had a gash in his head that took several staples to close.

        Officials do not know who fired first or how many times.

        “We know the suspect did fire the weapon,” he said. “The fact that he took a weapon shows he was not going to surrender peacefully.”

        The chief said all three officers were covered in mud and blood after the struggle.

        The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene. Officer Pappas' hand was put in a cast and he was released from the hospital. The other two officers were put on seven-day administrative leave.

        When officers were called to the theft in progress around 1:45 p.m. at the grocery store, two employees were nursing wounds from their struggle with the shoplifter. Mike Finke, the store's manager, said he stopped the man because he was trying to steal deodorant and shaving cream.

        “First he said he was doing it for his kids,” Mr. Finke said later Wednesday while icing an injured elbow on one of the checkout counters. “How are they going to eat deodorant?”

        As the manager and another employee tried to keep the man from leaving, he became belligerent. The two wrestled him to the ground, dodging punches. The store employees tore the suspect's jacket while trying to restrain him.

        “He was bleeding pretty good around the forehead,” Mr. Finke said of the shop lifter. “He ran down the alleyway and I heard him jump over the fence into the woods.”

        The three officers caught up to the man in the 3200 block of Orion Avenue between two houses.

        “Two officers and the man were fistfighting,” Mr. Finke said. “The officers were yelling, "Get down! Get down!' But he wouldn't get down.”

        At some point, the man grabbed one of the officer's guns and fired it.

        The man “got it out of the holster,” said Police Lt. Ray Ruberg.

        The unidentified younger IGA employeereceived a cut on his forehead and went to the hospital for a tetanus shot because the suspect bit his finger.

        Greg Stern, an employee of Kitchen Concepts, was taking a smoke break behind that store when he saw the chase.

        “All of a sudden I heard, "Boom' — then a few seconds passed — and then, "Boom, boom, boom.' I was about ready to start calling around and telling people to lock their doors.”

        Chief Streicher said the suspect's identity would likely be disclosed today

        “When things like this occur, it's very, very unfortunate for us and for the city,” he said.

Two die in incidents with police
- Suspect in shoplifting grabbed cop's gun
Council demands answers in choking

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