Monday, April 28, 2003

Restaurant manager shot to death

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

CRESTVIEW HILLS - A manager at Applebee's Neighborhood Grill and Bar was shot and killed early Sunday after closing the restaurant, located just off Turkeyfoot Road.

Mark Smith of Burlington, a married father of two, was found dead in the restaurant's parking lot by a cleaning crew at about 4:30 a.m.

Smith had been night manager at the restaurant for about four months, but had worked at the chain eatery for some time before taking on those duties, said Col. Paul Herbst, chief of Lakeside Park/Crestview Hills police.

As night manager, Smith was the last one to close the store, Herbst said.

Smith, who police said was in his mid- to late 30s, was shot once in the face.

Police would not comment on a possible motive for the shooting or say if anything had been stolen.

"He seems to be a real positive guy that everyone seemed to like," Herbst said.

The exact time of the shooting is not known.

But Herbst said police had interviewed Applebee's employees and "we're pretty certain that everything was fine until 1:30 a.m."

The restaurant was closed Sunday and will remain closed today. Employees will be offered grief counseling today.

Employees at the scene Sunday declined comment, and a corporate representative could not be reached for comment.

The restaurant is located in a busy area near Thomas More College, Crestview Hills Mall and the municipal building.

"There's a lot of traffic through here almost all the time," Herbst said.

Crestview Hills and Kenton County police were on the scene until nearly 8 p.m.

They had roped off the parking lot and left the yellow police tape up overnight.

Next door, the parking lot at T.G.I. Friday's was full Sunday evening.

According to the Crestview Hills mayor, the last time this Kenton County community of 2,900 dealt with a violent incident like this was in 1998, when a 66-year-old woman was found strangled in her home. Fred Furnish of Covington was convicted of that crime and was sentenced to the death penalty.

Anyone with information about Sunday's shooting is asked to call the Kenton County Police at (859) 356-3191.


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