Nine people were injured when a gunfire erupted in a crowd in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine early Sunday morning, police said.
Police made no arrests, but said they were looking for “at least two” people who fired weapons during the incident.
All of those who were shot were treated and released from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center on Sunday. The names of the injured have not been released. Officials said they were between 24 and 47 years old, seven are male and one is female.
“I thank God that there were no deaths,” Mayor Aftab Pureval said Sunday at a press conference.
Pureval credited the quick response from police who were already at the scene, including the officer who fired his gun at one of the suspected shooters.
“Our police officer responded with heroic and immediate action,” the mayor said.
Lt. Col. Mike John said it was unclear if any of the suspects were among the nine injured, but encouraged anyone with information about what happened to report it to police.
The corner of Main Street and Woodward is the heart of Over-the-Rhine’s entertainment district. There are dozens of bars, restaurants and clubs in the area. Thousands of people come to the neighborhood every weekend.
Police said just after 1:30 a.m., officers assigned to the Civil Unrest Response Team came around the corner to disperse a large crowd. As officers were on the scene, shots rang out. John said surveillance video showed a physical altercation in the crowd and then a suspect shooting.
VIDEO: Cincinnati shooting: Security camera footage shows people running, sounds of gunfire
Cincinnati Police Officer Joseph Shook fired a bullet at one of the suspects who then fled, John said. After this suspect fled to Zeigler Park, more gunshots were heard coming from the south on Main Street, leading police to believe that at least two people had fired.
Shook joined the police department in 2016, John said.
“He acted immediately,” John said. “He ran towards gunfire.”
John said his actions and those of other firefighters saved lives.
Immediately after the shooting, the large crowd remained and police struggled to make way for medics, John said.
Some officers used “bang balls,” high explosives that are rolled on the ground, to quickly push the crowd back, John said. Other officers found people who had been shot and began administering first aid. In recent years, officers have worn tourniquets for situations like this, and John said several officers were used by officers on Main Street.
Call to responsibility
Cincinnati City Councilman Scotty Johnson is a former police officer. He spoke to the press on Sunday.
He said a small number of people can’t seem to resolve their issues or disputes without picking up a gun. Johnson said residents and business owners of Over-the-Rhine did not deserve to be victimized because of the “ridiculous beefs” of these individuals.
“We want everyone to come downtown and have a good time,” he said. “You make it dangerous for everyone. You’re not going to get away with it.”
He called for “personal responsibility”. He said people needed to find better ways to settle their arguments and anyone who knew anything about what happened should come to the police with the information.
“We’re a better city than this,” Johnson said.
The police department had seen things change on Main Street and were already taking action, John said.
John said patrols in the area have increased over the past month due to larger crowds forming on Main Street. He said staffing hasn’t been an issue and the city has been “generous” with its overtime budget.
Pureval said the city will continue to explore options to expand dispute resolution programs and has already funded new classes of police recruits.
The mayor said more and more gun violence in the city is not centered around drug trafficking, which is a big change from the past.
Recently high-profile shootings like the murder in the parking lot of an Oakley Target, the shooting in Smale Park on July 4, 2021, and a shooting in Grant Park the previous year all stemmed from personal disputes, police say.
“Gun violence is so inappropriate,” Pureval said. “People can’t resolve their dispute without taking a gun.”
He said the prevalence of guns in the community is contributing to the problem and said better mental health resources and conflict resolution training are needed.
“We need people to call the police when they have a disagreement,” he said.
Pureval said Cincinnati is not alone in this “devastating trend.”
“It’s all over the country,” he said.
“None of us can sleep”
The shooting is Greater Cincinnati’s fourth mass shooting in 2022.
The FBI defines a mass shooting as any shooting with four or more victims.
The shooting near Main and 13th streets claimed more lives than any shooting in the city since the Cameo nightclub shooting in 2017. In that incident, two people died and 17 people were injured at the East club End.
So far this year, 18 people have been shot in Germany, 17 of whom have survived. There was a double shooting in June in the same block as Sunday’s shooting and a triple shooting in the 1700 block of Vine Street earlier this month.
Lindsey Swadner owns The Hub at 12th and Main streets. She says her employees and neighbors are traumatized.
“I witnessed incessant shooting,” Swadner said. “None of us can sleep.”
She said she even had a gun drawn when she asked someone to leave the property.
She said Over-the-Rhine bartenders and employees needed mental health counseling and support after the things they witnessed. Swadner praised the city council for being responsive and listening, and acknowledged that police can respond to crime, but not necessarily prevent it.
“I’m on the other end of the line…trying to make sure my bartenders aren’t sobbing hysterically and freaking out about whether it’s safe to go home,” Swadner said.
“I don’t know if I will open,” she said. “Putting my bartenders in this position when they just saw a mass shooting…is pretty awful.”