Monday, August 13, 2001

Avondale man shot to death

19th homicide victim in the city since April

By Emily Biuso
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A 20-year-old Avondale man found shot on a street in his neighborhood early Sunday morning was a gifted cartoonist and devoted to his family, relatives said.

        Brian Ballew was pronounced dead at University Hospital shortly after Cincinnati police found him near Union Street and Savoy Place about 2 a.m. Sunday.

        He had gone out for a beer and got into an argument with an unidentified person, said Daryle Ballew, the victim's cousin, as he sat with other relatives in the front of the family's home in the 3100 block of Savoy Place Sunday afternoon.

        “Over an argument,” his cousin said, shaking his head. “Whatever the argument may have been, it wasn't worth his life.”

        No arrests had been made Sunday. Police gave no motive for the killing.

        Brian Ballew's death is the 19th homicide and 75th shooting incident in the city of Cincinnati since the April riots. It is at least the fourth homicide in Avondale this year.

        Mr. Ballew lived with his mother in the residential neighborhood of Avondale between Reading Road and Martin Luther King Drive. He did odd jobs, including landscaping, family members said.

        He enjoyed drawing cartoons for his six nieces and nephews and wrestling with

        them, Daryle Ballew said. A cartoon jester he carved into cement smiles up at visitors from the sidewalk in front of the house.

        “Whatever the kids wanted to do, he'd just be there for them,” Daryle Ballew said.

        Brian Ballew has convictions for domestic violence and drug abuse in 2000, according to Hamilton County Court records. He was charged with vandalism last year, but the disposition of that case could not be determined Sunday.

        Police Chief Tom Streicher, who formed a Violent Crimes Task Force three weeks ago to combat the violence in the city since the riots, said last week that its 70 officers may begin shifting focus from Over-the-Rhine to other city neighborhoods experiencing the violence.

        Mr. Ballew's death is the second homicide in Avondale in three weeks. On July 25, 39-year-old Mary George was found shot to death outside her apartment building in the 500 block of Hale Avenue.

        19-year-old Robert Lemar White was found shot to death on Hale Avenue Feb. 23 and 24-year-old Ruben Ballew was shot to death outside of Babe Baker's Cocktail Lounge on Reading Road Jan. 1. It was unclear Sunday whether the two Ballews were related.

        Anyone with information about Mr. Ballew's death is urged to call the Cincinnati Homicide Unit at (513) 352-3542 or Crime Stoppers at (513) 352-3040. Callers may remain anonymous and receive money for their information.


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