Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Police seek suspects in shooting

By David Eck
Enquirer contributor

Cincinnati Police officers, a detective and a dog work at Bud's Pony Keg at West Galbraith Road after an armed robbery Monday.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/GLENN HARTONG

The owner of a College Hill pony keg turned over his cash to a teenage robber with a gun Monday afternoon - but the boy shot him anyway before fleeing.

Hemant Shah, who has owned Bud's Pony Keg on West Galbraith Road with his wife for more than a decade, was shot in the right hip. After treatment at University Hospital, the 47-year-old Finneytown man was able to go home.

The shooter and another teenager escaped, though Cincinnati Police tracked them with dogs and a Hamilton County sheriff's helicopter to a nearby apartment complex, which they searched.

Mr. Shah is "a very lucky man," Cincinnati Police Lt. Alan March said. "He was walking on his own. A lot of the... witnesses are concerned about Mr. Shah.''

Mr. Shah's daughter, Sweta Shah, a freshman at UC, was at school when she got a message from her mother that her father had been shot. She rushed to the hospital, not knowing how badly he was hurt.

"All we knew was that he had been shot," she said. "He called 911 and then he called my mom at home."

The Shahs have experienced three or four robberies over the years. But Monday's holdup was different.

"This is the first time someone's actually shot," Ms. Shah said. "It's always been like a threat, but now it's even scarier."

She worries about her parents.

"They're always there," she said. "We don't know what to do next."

There were 27 robberies in College Hill from January through October this year, Cincinnati Police statistics show. That compares with 28 robberies in all of 2001 in the northern neighborhood - up from 25 the year before. The city continues to experience a wave of violent crime that began after the 2001 riots and has not relented, largely driven by drugs and gangs.

Bud's Pony Keg, located at 1260 W. Galbraith Road, remained closed Monday, and the family wasn't sure if it would be open today.

"He's definitely not going back for a while," Ms. Shah said.

After firing at Mr. Shah, the shooter and a second youth ran toward an apartment complex across the street. A police dog picked up a scent, but lost it in the complex. Police searched on foot and used the sheriff's helicopter to no avail.

"There was absolutely no reason to shoot him," Lt. March said. Mr. Shah "did everything he was asked to do."

The shooter was described as black, 16-18 years old, about 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighing about 130 pounds. He was wearing a black coat and carried a handgun.

The second suspect was described as a black man, 18-19 years old and about 6 feet tall. He was wearing a black leather jacket.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 352-3040.

E-mail daveck@fuse.net

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