CINCINNATI – A frenzied shooting outside a popular nightclub near downtown on Sunday left nine people injured, led to a desperate search for at least two shooters and sparked fears that gun violence could become “a normal part of our culture.”
The chaos erupted after a clash between two groups of people shortly before closing time at 2 a.m. outside Mr. Pitiful’s store in the city’s historic Over-the-Rhine district, Lieutenant Colonel Mike John said. He estimated 15-20 shots were fired.
Hospital spokeswoman Heather Chura Smith said all eight men and one woman treated at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center have been released.
Mayor Aftab Pureval called the incident “unacceptable” and credited officers at the scene for their quick response that had the potential to save lives.
“The gun violence we’re seeing is not the gun violence of the past centered around the drug trade,” Pureval said at a news conference. “We need the support of the community, the citizens of Cincinnati recognize this is a devastating trend and work with us to resolve differences without gunfire.”
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Officers, at the scene before the shooting occurred because of the large crowd that had gathered at night, witnessed two attackers shooting at each other, said John. He said an officer fired a shot at the fugitive gunman, described as wearing only a white shirt and dark pants. It is not yet clear whether the person was hit or not.
John said: “The suspect was actively shooting at the time.
Officers began assisting the injured as the crowd invaded, John said. The police department’s civil disorder response team was dispatched to disperse the gathering. Two large “explosive balls” were used to clear the area so emergency medical teams could reach the injured.
“Most of those injuries are lower limb injuries,” says John. “We already have officers applying the tourniquet at the scene.”
Lindsey Swadner, owner of a nearby bar called The Hub, said something had to be done to get guns off the street. And she called on the city to provide mental health support for distraught bartenders and others at the scene.
“I’m on the other end, trying… to make sure my bartenders don’t sob hysterically and in fear and that they get home safely,” she said.
Cincinnati police union president Dan Hils said the shooter was “part of an unruly mob” on the street.
“Thankfully, everyone who was shot had a hope of survival,” Hils said. He said police had “an immense job in controlling the chaotic and dangerous scene this morning.”
John said many people who fled the scene may have seen something of value to the investigation. He asked witnesses and anyone with video of the shooting to contact police.
A shooting in the nearby Central Business District left two people injured, but John said he did not believe the attacks were linked.
The Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit research group, defines a mass shooting as any shooting with four or more victims. There have been 29 mass shootings in the Greater Cincinnati area since 2015. Sunday’s violence was fourth mass shooting in the area this year.
“The use of guns to resolve disputes cannot become a normal part of our culture,” Pureval said.
Bacon reports from Arlington, Virginia. Contribute: Erin Couch, Quinlan Bentley, Cameron Knight and Brook Endale, Cincinnati Enquirer