Tuesday, January 02, 2001

Police shoot home invasion suspect

Bound victim escapes, then calls police

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        UNION TOWNSHIP — Just minutes after celebrating the new year with friends at his home, James Stephens lay tied up in his basement, wondering whether a masked gunman would murder his wife and four children.

        “I thought he might just kill us all. I had to do something,” the Clermont County man told a 911 dispatcher after a home-invasion robbery early Monday. Mr. Stephens said he broke free, escaped through a window and ran to a neighbor's house to call police.

        The gunman “said he was gonna come back and kill me if I (ran) away, but I had to run away,” Mr. Stephens said.

        After confronting the man inside the Stephens home in the 5100 block of Romohr Road, an unidentified officer wounded him with a single gunshot around 4 a.m., police said.

        The suspect, Robert Snead, 37, was listed in serious condition Monday night at University Hospital.

        Police released an audiotape of Mr. Stephens' 911 call and a brief written statement but said a report was not ready. They would not answer additional questions.

        A woman and an infant, apparently Mr. Stephens' wife and child, were taken from the home to Mercy Hospital-Anderson for treatment around 4:30 a.m. Township Fire Chief Stan Deimling said he couldn't disclose the patients' names or why they sought medical attention.

        However, police said four children inside the residence, ages 3 months to 8 years, “were not injured and slept through most of the incident.”

        Police said the gunman used a stun gun on at least one person and tied up the two adults in separate rooms. Mr. Stephens said the man also was armed with a gun and knives and made a bizarre demand: “He gave me some pills I had to take. He said they were sleeping pills.”

        Mr. Stephens said his captor “kept coming down and checking on me in the basement, making sure I wasn't trying to escape.”

        The ordeal began around 1:40 a.m.

        The Stephens' beige brick, ranch-style house sits on a secluded, one-lane paved road between the Hamilton-Clermont county line and Beechwood Road.

        A gunman showed up only 10 minutes after the family's New Year's gathering broke up, Mr. Stephens told police. The man apparently had taken advantage of an open garage door.

        Mr. Stephens described the gunman as white, wearing a black mask, a black hooded sweat shirt, white or khaki pants, gym shoes and yellow gloves.


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