Sunday, March 25, 2001

Ice cream truck driver fatally shot

Employers remember man's sense of humor

By Lew Moores
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        They got the call Friday night from a young girl who had noticed the phone number on the side of the ice cream truck.

        “Your ice cream driver was shot,” she told them.

        Thomas Simonds and Eugene Cunningham knew right away whom she was talking about.

        Floyd Kilpatrick, who turned 51 just 10 days ago, lay dying in his ice cream truck of a gunshot wound at the corner of Bleeker Lane and Knob Court in the English Woods neighborhood of North Fairmount.

        Cincinnati police say the shooting occurred at about 9:30 p.m. Investigators are looking for two suspects, both described as 16 to 18 years old.

        Mr. Simonds, owner of Captain Tom's, the Lockland-based firm that runs a fleet of ice cream and snack vending trucks, and his manager, Mr. Cunningham, said Saturday the company was saddened by Mr. Kilpatrick's death.

        “He was the kind of guy this should have never happened to,” said Mr. Simonds of the Memphis, Tenn., native who lived in North College Hill and had been working for Captain Tom's since 1996.

        “We were his family here,” Mr. Cunningham said.

        Saturday afternoon in English Woods, one man shook his head.

        “This don't make no sense,” said the man, who declined to give his name, as he stood near the corner where Mr. Kilpatrick had been shot in his truck.

        “It hurt the kids more than anybody. This man was

        trying to serve the community in a good way, then somebody did him like that. He was nice. If someone was a dime or so short, he said don't worry about it and gave them the ice cream anyway. He was decent with people.”

        Mr. Simonds and Mr. Cunningham said Mr. Kilpatrick had started driving his truck downtown and in the West End, but when construction began on the downtown riverfront and demolition began in the West End, he asked that his route be changed. He drove the area of North Fairmount, including the Fay Apartments, and in Millvale. He worked six days a week, from noon to about 9:30 p.m.

        Mr. Kilpatrick was a slim, wiry man, with a terrific sense of humor, said Mr. Simonds and Mr. Cunningham. He got along well with the children on his route, often doing little jigs for them.

        “He would dance and sing songs to the kids,” Mr. Simonds said. “He was very patient with them. He was never in a hurry to get any place. He was real happy where he was.”

        Mr. Kilpatrick reminded Mr. Cunningham of “Peanut Jim,” James Shelton, the affable and popular peanut vendor who became an institution at Reds games.

        “Floyd was like that,” Mr. Cunningham said. “He was more than an ice cream seller.”

        Both Mr. Simonds and Mr. Cunningham said Mr. Kilpatrick was robbed two weeks ago, at the same corner where he was killed Friday night. They also said that the night he was shot, Mr. Kilpatrick was not robbed, that a plastic container with money in it was still in the truck. However, they said it was rare for their vendors to be victims of crime.

        “His time wasn't now, it wasn't now,” Mr. Cunningham said.

       Anyone with information regarding the shooting are asked to call Cincinnati homicide at 352-3542, or Crimestoppers at 352-3040.


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