Creighton baseball director shot to death in front of Omaha home

Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 8:40 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 30, 2021 at 4:56 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Omaha Police on Thursday arrested a man after a former Creighton player who later went to work for the Bluejays was found shot to death in the yard of a home in the Benson neighborhood.

OPD identified the deceased as Christopher Gradoville, 37, director of operations for the Creighton University baseball program. Gradoville was also a “standout catcher” for the Bluejays from 2004 to 2007, according to the Creighton Athletics website.

Chris Gradoville
Chris Gradoville(Creighton University)

Gunfire broke out after 7:30 a.m. at a house west of 61st and Pratt streets, north of Maple Street. According to the police report, officers arriving at the scene found Gradoville lying in the yard of a residence with multiple gunshot wounds. Omaha Fire Department medics declared him dead at the scene as police searched for the gunman.

OPD said in an update at about 9:30 a.m. that they had a man in custody and were not looking for any other suspects at that time, but noted that police were still talking with witnesses.

Police later identified the suspect in custody as Ladell Thornton, 43. He is facing charges of first-degree murder, use of a weapon to commit a felony, and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. Thornton was booked into Douglas County Corrections.

Ladell Thornton was arrested after Christopher Gradoville, 37, was found shot to death Thursday...
Ladell Thornton was arrested after Christopher Gradoville, 37, was found shot to death Thursday morning, Sept. 30, 2021, in front of a home in the Omaha neighborhood of Benson.(Omaha Police Department)

Police had Pratt Street closed between 61st and 62nd streets Thursday morning while investigating the shooting.

Police are urging anyone with information about the crime to contact the OPD Homicide Unit at 402-444-5656 or Omaha Crime Stoppers at 402-444-STOP,, or submit a tip through the P3 Tips website or app.

Creighton University officials sent out a statement Thursday evening:

Creighton Faculty, Staff, and Students,

It is with a tremendous amount of sadness that I share the news that Chris Gradoville, BSBA'07, an alumnus and Creighton’s volunteer director of baseball operations, was killed in a shooting earlier today. Earlier this afternoon, I gathered with head coach Ed Servais, athletic director Marcus Blossom, and several other members of the athletic department so together we could share this difficult news with the baseball team and staff. Out of respect for the family and given the circumstances of the investigation, it was important that we waited until now to share this information with the University community.

Chris was a standout baseball player for Creighton from 2004-2007, and joined the staff in 2020. The Gradoville family has strong ties to Creighton, as Chris’ grandfather and several cousins were also student-athletes. Chris was also very clearly admired by his colleagues within the athletic department, and the team.

As always, know that resources in Student Counseling Services and Campus Ministry are available for support. Please join me in expressing our deep condolences to Chris’ wife, Nikki, the entire Gradoville family, and his friends and colleagues here at Creighton. May God bless them and comfort their hearts during this extraordinarily difficult time.


Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, Ph

Photographer John Gutowski contributed to this report.

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