Sunday, April 29, 2001

Bystander killed in shooting

Marine veteran tried to help

By Ben L. Kaufman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ALEXANDRIA, Ky. — A retired Marine drill instructor who liked to keep the peace was killed early Saturday when he left the Sandtrap Bar to investigate a gunshot.

        John L. Hafer was one of three victims in a double murder and suicide at the neighborhood bar about a mile south of Alexandria on U.S. 27.

        “John was one of the nicest guys you'd ever like to meet,” bar owner Jim Shearer said.

[photo] The Sandtrap Bar south of Alexandria, Ky.
(Tony Jones photo)
| ZOOM |
        “He fought in Korea and and did two tours in Vietnam and he ended up getting killed over nothing in a parking lot.”

        Campbell County Police Lt. William Armstrong said it could be days before he knows the shooter's motives but Mr. Shearer described events this way:

        Elizabeth White, 22, was in the Sandtrap with two women, listening to the Gradual Taylor band when her husband, Darryl, 28, came in shortly after midnight and asked her to come with him.

        The couple, from nearby Grants Lick, argued and when she refused to leave, Mr. White walked out.

        Minutes later, Mrs. White changed her mind, Mr. Shearer said. “She no sooner cleared the door and we heard the shot.”

        Mr. Hafer went to help.

        That was a fatal mistake.

        “He stuck his head out to see what's going on and he (Mr. White) shot him in the forehead,” Lt. Armstrong said.

        “I can't believe my brother died like that,” said Betty Morgan of Sharonville. “I could understand if he'd been messing with the guy's wife, but he wasn't. I just can't picture him with his brain blowed out.”

        Mr. White returned to his truck and killed himself with the same .45 caliber semi-automatic Glock pistol, according to Detective Sgt. Barrett Champagne.

        Police had had no contact with the Whites before Saturday, Lt. Armstrong said, adding that relatives were caring for the couple's two children.

        Mr. Hafer, 67, also of Grants Lick, was “always trying to keep the trouble down,” Mr. Shearer said, and it usually worked.

        That was typical, another sister, Mae Hafer of Grants Lick, said of “John L.”

        “He'd help anybody.”

        A daughter, Linda Hafer of Elsmere, called her murdered father “my hero. He always made sure things were taken care of.” She said he drove a truck for a Wilder produce firm after leaving the Marine Corps and also retired from that job.

        Mr. Shearer said police rarely have been called to his bar in the 10 years he's owned it and these were the first killings.

        “There was nothing we could have anticipated.”

        Lt. Armstrong agreed. “It's not a trouble bar.”

        Slaying-suicides involving domestic disputes are not rare, the lieutenant said. However, he couldn't remember a he-and-she shooting where a bystander was killed the way Mr. Hafer died.

        Mr. Hafer retired from the Marine Corps as a master sergeant. He belonged to Alexandria VFW Post 3205 and the Grants Lick Baptist Church.

        Mr. Hafer, who was divorced, also is survived by a daughter, Charlene Craig of Roselawn; a brother, Terry of Grants Lick; sisters Sally Friedley of Grants Lick, Josephine Cook and Pauline Lemenkuhler, both of Cincinnati, and Thelma Gibson of Corbin, Ky.; and seven grandchildren.

        Visitation is 4-9 p.m. Wednesday at Cooper Funeral Home, Grants Lick. A funeral service will be 11 a.m. Thursday at Grants Lick Baptist Church. Burial will follow at Oakland Cemetery, Grants Lick.

        Memorials: Alexandria VFW Post 3205, Alexandria, Ky. 41001.

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