Town hall meeting comes after spike in violence
Police are looking for Lexington, Ky., man in connection with double homicide of a man and a woman found shot to death inside an Avondale home early Thursday.
Police search for armed and dangerous man
Police are looking for Lexington, Ky., man in connection with double homicide of a man and a woman found shot to death inside an Avondale home early Thursday, one of three homicides in Cincinnati so far in 2014. The killings happened within a couple days of a police town hall forum.
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Homicide detectives arrested Brandon Thomas in connection with the killings of Betty Thomas (no relation) and Adam Bostic, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, in the 3400 block of Knott Street in Avondale. During the first nine days of the year, police responded to five homicides.
Adam Bostic (L) and Betty Thomas (R)
(Photo by Kendall Herold)
(Photo by Dwayne Slavey)
CINCINNATI -- Authorities have issued an arrest warrant for a Lexington, Ky. man in connection with the slayings of two of three people in Cincinnati Thursday.
Police issued an arrest warrant on charges of aggravated murder for Brandon Thomas, 29 in the deaths of Adam Bostic, 31, and Betty Thomas, 28. The pair were found shot to death about 1:30 a.m. in a home in the 3400 block of Knott Street. Two pre-school-aged girls were found in the home unharmed, police said. Police have released no motive in their deaths.
They were two of three people found slain in two instances, less than a day after Cincinnati police officials began a series of community meetings to address residents’ concerns about violence and other policing issues . An hour after police found the couple killed, officers found a 24-year-old woman dead in the middle of the street in Over-the-Rhine . Police believe the incidents were unrelated.
The killings bring the number of people slain this year in the city up to five.
Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell was visibly frustrated with the recent violence at a Thursday afternoon press conference at police headquarters .
"People should be fed up with this, this should make people in the community angry," Blackwell said.
Both Bostic and Thomas were bound, police investigators confirmed said Thursday morning. Police issued an aggravated murder arrest warrant for Brandon Thomas. Police suspect Thomas might be driving a green or gray 1995 Ford Explorer with Ohio plates GBG 9532.
Thomas is believed to be armed and extremely dangerous, Blackwell said. Authorities believe the two victims knew Thomas and that there was some "nexus of drug activity" involved in the incident. A federal parole violation warrant out of Lexington, Ky., has been previously issued for Thomas.
"We are not certain of his whereabouts, but we are certain that he's a very dangerous man," Blackwell said. "Investigators are not sure if Thomas acted alone, but suspect there are "other players in this incident. Usually in these home-invasion style homicides, where there is some type of nexus with drug activity, you will see a heightened level of violence."
Lifelong Avondale resident Kimberly Marshall, 57, said she decided to walk her grandchildren to nearby South Avondale Elementary School Thursday morning when she heard the news.
"I have a feeling of gut-wrenching fear, I’m upset even though I didn’t know the victims but they are my neighbors," Marshall said. "They were a young couple trying to raise children. I'm upset Avondale is not a very safe place to live at right now.
"I fear for my grandchildren."
She's praying for the two children the victims left behind.
"These kids lost their parents, but we don’t know what happen here," Marshall said. "We just know two kids don’t have a mother and father today and all we can do is pray for them."
Court records show Bostic had dozens of brushes with police for a variety of offenses, including driving without a license, illegal possession of a firearm, and a 2011 arrest and conviction for marijuana trafficking and receiving stolen property.
A former manager of Betty, who worked at Christ Hospital, said she was a "hard worker." Christ Hospital spokesperson Michael Beauchat said Betty is no longer employed at the hospital. He did not verify if she previously worked there.
"Betty was a sweet woman who loved her daughters, and worked very hard to care well for them," Theresa Greenwald said.
In the second homicide Thursday, Jessica Revelee was found shot to death about 2:15 a.m. in the middle of the street in the 600 block of W. McMicken Avenue. Police were searching for three armed suspects who were believed to be in an older model burgundy Chevy Impala with tinted windows and alloy rims. Revelee might have been involved in street prostitution and drug abuse, Blackwell said.
Police Chief Says He Has Violence-Reduction Plan
Admittedly, Blackwell acknowledged homicides are difficult to control. He said police will be stepping up their drug trafficking and street-crime enforcement that feed violence, he said Thursday. Plans are in motion to overhaul investigative units stationed at each of the city's five districts and for the implementation of a gang unit.
"Homicides are a very specific crime, that should not have a clouding effect over the entire community," Blackwell said. "They're unacceptable, we are going to do everything that we can to reduce the homicides."
On Monday, Blackwell, along with other police leaders assured officials during a two-hour meeting that he had a plan to combat violence – and especially homicide. Last year, the city witnessed a 42 percent increase in killings when compared with 2012. Cincinnati’s rate of homicide, 25 per 100,000 residents, gives it the
distinction of having the highest rate of homicide when compared to similar sized cities in the region.
"I’m not sure what the police chief can do, he’s not God," Marshall said. "What can he do?"
In a separate interview with WCPO, Blackwell outlined a series of strategies aimed at bringing down killings in the city, which is focused on working with teens before they enter a life of violence.
In that interview Blackwell said: “The next homicide has already been talked about. We can get in front if we build relationships. If kids will say, ‘You know what, I’m hearing that Pookie, he’s on Facebook, talking about he’s shooting Dede.”
Blackwell said citizens can expect a reduction in violent crime and homicides in 2014 in part because of a wide variety of initiatives to engage teens and the community at large.
“It’s never going to full go away (violence), but we certainly are going to have an impact here. I guarantee you,” Blackwell promised.
Blackwell also used the series of town hall meetings as a means to hear directly from residents. He said he and his commanders will take information gleaned from those meetings to craft a strategic plan aimed at fighting crime and responding to other concerns.
Blackwell came under fire during the first meeting, where residents repeatedly peppered him with questions about what they say is an unreasonable response time when police are called.
Residents asked Blackwell and the department’s three assistant chiefs and captains, why it can take hours, in some cases, for a police officer to show up. Others criticized police for not doing more to shutter nuisance properties, and a few praised police for their work.
Blackwell and Capt. Daniel Gerard, who assumed command of District 3 last Friday, recognized the response-time problem. District 3 averages a 20-minute response time to priority calls, compared to a little more than 10 in District 1, 14 minutes in District 2 and 5, and nearly 15 minutes in District 4, according to 2013 data the police department presented to City Council in December . Priority calls are runs that require an officer’s immediate assistance.
The meetings continue in January:
9 On Your Side reporter Kendall Herold spoke to the former manager of Thomas. WCPO Web editors Alyssa Dailey and Jesse Folk contributed to this report.