Boy Scout Dad Speaks Out

Jennifer Baker, Cincinnati Enquirer, December 4, 2007

The search continues today for three men—one armed with a sawed-off shotgun—who robbed a Boy Scout troop selling Christmas trees late Monday, police said.

Two fathers and their sons, 13 and 11, were shoved to the ground and robbed at gunpoint about 8:30 p.m. at the corner of West Galbraith Road and Gilbert Avenue in the parking lot of Tom’s Drive Thru.

The adults and 13-year-old also were punched. The 13-year-old was hit in the face.

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The robbers ran off with $350 in cash that Troop 393 had raised by selling trees for $25 each.

“They are just human waste,” said the 13-year-old’s father, John Hancock Sr., in an interview this morning from his home.

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They had just sold a tree and were preparing to close the stand for the night when three men in their early 20s approached.

When Hancock asked if he could help them, they demanded the troop’s money. One man pointed a sawed-off, 12-gauge pump shotgun at Hancock, another parent, and their two sons.

“We were like, ‘take the money,’” he recalled. “And then they pointed the gun at my son. When they turned the gun toward the boys, that’s when I went after the guy with the gun. When it’s your kid, you know, that’s my world.”

When he went after the gunman, one of the unarmed robbers attacked him while the third one attacked the other parent and then ran into the trailer to grab the troop’s money from a cash box.

While Hancock was fighting one of the unarmed robbers, he said the one with the gun hit him a couple times with the barrel of the gun in his chest and face, knocking him down.

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The men fled.

Hancock’s father pulled up just as the robbers ran off and helped search for them. The 13-year-old urged his father not to chase after them.

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John Hancock said he was impressed his son encouraged him to calm down.

“Afterward, he said, ‘Dad, let it go. It’s not worth losing you over,’” he recalled of his son. “He is a good boy. He is a brave young man.”

The troop formerly was affiliated with St. Margaret Mary Church but has operated out of North College Hill City Hall since the church’s school closed, the grandfather said. The troop has sold the trees for more than 20 years and never had a problem before.

Appalled by the story, a few businessmen have stepping forward to help out.

Phil Amrein of Amrein Diamonds in Colerain Township has offered to replace the $350 taken in the robbery, North College Hill police said today. Shamrock Pools in North College Hill also has pledged to give them money, Police Chief Paul Toth said.

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The robbers were last seen running south on Betts Avenue. They were described as black, 17 to early 20s. One was wearing a tan coat, and another was wearing a dark gray coat with a hood and a lighter gray sweat shirt underneath.

There was no clear description of the third robber. Anyone with information is asked to call North College Hill Police at 513-521-7171.

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