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Police pursue leads, consider road-rage angle in Repchic shooting

Published: Tue, September 28, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.





The investigation into the city’s latest homicide continues while the family copes with the second violent death of a loved one since 1990 in the same Uptown neighborhood.

Thomas J. Repchic, 75, and his wife, Jacqueline A. Repchic, 74, of Trenton Avenue, were driving Saturday afternoon near the intersection of Philadelphia Avenue and Southern Boulevard when someone in another vehicle opened fire, killing him and wounding his wife, police said.

“We’ve been receiving several tips that are coming in since we put it out on CrimeStoppers,” said Police Chief Jimmy Hughes.

Capt. Rod Foley said detectives are investigating leads that have come in through CrimeStoppers.

“We’re very happy that people have been calling in,” he said.

One possibility is that it was a case of road rage, Hughes said.

“It fits more of a road-rage profile,” Hughes said.

The vehicle whose occupants fired the shots was described by witnesses as a burgundy or red Dodge Durango-type vehicle, the chief said.

“We have some information that those individuals had been in the area prior” to the shooting, he said.

This is not the first time the Repchic family has been struck by violence in the Uptown neighborhood.

On Nov. 24, 1990, the couple’s son, Thomas J. Repchic, 25, died after being shot in the chest while walking on Hylda Avenue near Market Street outside a bar that is now called Plush.

That bar is across the street from where police found the elder Repchics inside their car after Saturday’s shooting.

Four teenagers were charged in that robbery and shooting death. Robert Mahone, who was 18, was convicted of aggravated robbery and aggravated murder and was sentenced to 48 years to life in prison. He remains at the Ohio State Penitentiary, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction website.

Marlon Gilmore, who also was 18, was convicted of complicity to aggravated murder and other charges and was sentenced to 30 years to life. He remains at the Richland Correctional Institution, the website shows.

Chris Hodge, who was 16, was convicted of complicity to aggravated murder and two counts of aggravated robbery. He was sentenced to 36 years to life behind bars.

Eric Veal, who was 19 at the time of the shooting, was convicted and sentenced for obstructing justice.

Hughes said the increased police presence on the city’s South Side will continue. Even when there’s a shortage of officers on a shift because of illness, that area is covered, he said.

The department staffs 155 sworn officers, 105 of whom are patrol officers. Hughes said that about 75 percent of those patrol officers are on patrol duty with the others in plain clothes.

The number of officers is down from a high of 220 in 2001, but Hughes said the number of officers doesn’t necessarily correlate with the number of homicides.

Repchic’s homicide was the city’s 19th for the year and the second in less than a week. Realtor Vivian Martin was killed Sept. 20.

City council members say the police department needs more officers on patrol, but it’s unlikely that would have stopped these latest acts of violence.

“The officers we have on the street are doing a great job, but we need to beef up our safety forces,” said Councilman Paul Drennen, D-5th. “This is a bad situation. The city doesn’t have the money, but we need to increase our safety forces. We should be cutting elsewhere. Additional officers would cost more money, but it would be worth it.”

Councilman DeMaine Kitchen, D-2nd, agreed.

“There’s absolutely not enough officers, but these senseless crimes would not have been prevented with more cops on the street,” he said.

Councilwoman Annie Gillam, D-1st, chairwoman of council’s safety committee, said the city needs to have a “zero-tolerance” policy at all times.

“We need to toughen up and be more forceful and strict” with those who’ve committed crimes, she said.

“I don’t think more officers on the street could have stopped these crimes. These people are out of control. They don’t think they have to follow the laws.”

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