Thursday, May 29, 2003

Slaying not random act, mayor says

No suspects yet in Applebee's shooting

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

CRESTVIEW HILLS - It's been more than a month since Mark Allen Smith was gunned down at the Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar, and police have made no arrests. Nor have they publicly identified a suspect.

Smith, 36, of Burlington was shot near the restaurant's parking lot entrance just off of Turkeyfoot Road on the morning of April 27. The Marine veteran's body was found by a cleaning crew about 4:30 a.m.

Nothing was reported missing from the restaurant or Smith's wallet, authorities said.

Lakeside Park/Crestview Hills Police Chief Paul Herbst has said little publicly about the progress of the investigation, and he did not return a phone call seeking comment.

City leaders, however, have spoken out about the first homicide in five years for the bedroom community of nearly 3,000 residents.

City Administrator Dan Groth, a former police officer, said detectives have been interviewing a lot of people in connection with the investigation.

"You always have to be careful out there nowadays," said Groth, "but as far as this incident goes ... residents are in no more danger than before Mark Smith was shot."

Mayor Paul Meier said he has concluded from statements made by police that the shooting was not a random act.

"The police department is telling me that the investigation is ongoing," Meier said. "Our police chief has advised council there is no greater danger today as there was before the incident at Applebee's."

Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Bill Crockett said Kenton County police Detective Wayne Wallace has been assisting the local police department in the investigation.

"The detectives have worked their tails off," said Crockett. "They are very focused. They have spent a significant amount of time looking at leads. It is just a matter of time for them to methodically go through to see what they have."

Bill Campion, executive vice president of Thomas & King, the Lexington-based owner of the restaurant, said his company has left it up to police to take information from any tipsters. The company is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Smith's killer.

Campion said police have not disclosed anything to company officials about the investigation. The restaurant is open after being closed for several days following the crime. He said there has not been an unusually large turnover in employees.

"We are back to as much normalcy at the restaurant that can be expected," Campion said. "The wound from the crime will never heal, but the local team has done a good job at coming together and supporting each other."

Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call Kenton County police at (859) 356-3895 or Lakeside Park/Crestview Hills police at (859) 331-5368.


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