Thursday, May 1, 2003

Young family left to grieve


Shooting victim had 2 small boys

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

CRESTVIEW HILLS - Mark Allen Smith spent his last day watching his 6-year-old play his first T-ball game, before celebrating by taking the family to a Reds game.

"That's just the kind of guy he was," said Smith's mother-in-law, Sandra Compton. "He was a doting father who loved his family."

Smith didn't go home to sleep after a long day out with his sons Austin Tyler, 6, and Mason Alexander, 4 and wife, Stacy.

Instead, he rushed to his job as night manager at the Crestview Hills Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar where he was shot dead, apparently while closing. A cleaning crew found the 6-foot-6 Marine veteran's body about 4:30 a.m. Sunday in the parking lot. Nothing was reportedly missing from the restaurant or Smith's wallet. Police decline to say if they have any suspects.

Compton recalled the last time she spent time with her son-in-law. It was Easter. The family of four had brunch before traveling to Compton's Anderson Township home for an Easter egg hunt.

Then Smith had to work. Compton said Smith worked long hours to support his family, but found time to spend with his children.

"We always worried about him closing up so late," said Compton. "But when I got that early morning call to tell me something was wrong I never thought it would be this." The family consulted with a family counselor before agreeing Mrs. Smith would tell her two sons their father wouldn't be coming home.

"Stacy brought them upstairs all by herself and told them," Compton said. "We sat downstairs and listened to them cry. Then Stacy and the children came down the steps and we all hugged."

Compton said Mrs. Smith told the youngest, Mason, that his father's heart stopped.

Compton, who said Smith didn't have life insurance, thanked the community for their support. Applebee's is collecting money for the Smiths.

E-mail jhannah@enquirer.com




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