Ns News Online Online : A gunman opened fire at a bank in downtown Cincinnati on Thursday morning, killing three people and injuring five others before being shot dead by police, officials said. The man entered the loading dock of the 30-story Fifth Third Bank building at Fountain Square and began shooting about 9 a.m. local time, Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac told reporters.
He then made his way to the lobby, where he was met by police officers who gunned him down. “At least three or four of our officers did engage the suspect,” Isaac said.
Isaac said he could not confirm local media reports that the shooter was a disgruntled employee of the bank, and said he had no information that the victims were targeted. The motive of the shooter, whose identity has not been released, was not known.
Mayor John Cranley said the shooting could have been “much worse” had it not been for the quick response by cops in the area. “He was actively shooting innocent victims, it appears, and our officers were able to kill him and stop the threat very quickly,” Cranley told a news conference.
The police chief said he could not say whether the gunman shot himself in addition to being shot by police. No officers were injured, city officials said. “There’s something deeply sick at work here and we as a country need to work on it,” the mayor added at a news conference.
Police said there were several victims in the area of 511 Walnut St. in the city’s central business district, a few blocks from Great American Ball Park along the Ohio River.
One victim was located at Fifth and Walnut streets, while another was discovered inside a nearby Graeter’s ice cream shop, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Three men and one woman were transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, hospital officials said.
Officials with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office said they were searching the home of the gunman in North Bend, Ohio, according to WLWT. One witness, Leonard Cain, told The Enquirer that he was going inside a bank when someone yelled that he shouldn’t because of the shooting.
He said a woman also was walking into the bank at the same time, but had her headphones on and couldn’t hear their warnings. “She walked in the door and he shot her,” Cain told the paper, saying that he heard up to 15 shots fired.
Zach Fritzhand, who works nearby, said he saw victims lying motionless on stretchers. “There was definitely a lot of blood involved,” he said.
Michael Richardson, who works in the bank building, was just outside the main doors when he heard the gunshots and saw a man firing inside the lobby. “I looked behind me and saw the guy – he shot and then he shot again. After that I started running. I went around to the north side of the building and sat down,” he told The Enquirer.
Richardson said he also saw a cop dragging a bloodied woman out of the lobby.A visitor from Germany sat at a table on Fountain Square, enjoying a sunny morning when he heard some teens shouting about a shooting.
The man, who declined to give his name, at first thought it was a joke, but then saw the gunman firing into the bank. “I heard rounds of gunfire. I saw a guy in a white shirt walk around and shooting like this — bing, bing, bing, bing,” he said as he aimed an imaginary gun and pulled its trigger.
Ebony Ginyard, who works at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Fountain Square, said she and other workers and customers dropped to the floor when the shooting erupted, according to Reuters.
She said the shooter was so close that she could smell the gunpowder as he fired. “All he had to is look over the counter at us and we would have been shot,” Ginyard told reporters.
The mayor said the incident “is not normal, and it shouldn’t be viewed as normal,” adding the the United States is the only industrialized nation with frequent active shooter incidents. “We as a country have to deal with it,” Cranley said.