CINCINNATI — A shooting outside a popular nightclub near downtown on Sunday left nine people injured, prompting a desperate search for at least two shooters and stoking fears that gun violence is becoming a “normal part of our culture”.
Chaos erupted after an altercation between two groups of people shortly before 2 a.m. closing time outside Mr Pitiful’s in the city’s historic Over-the-Rhine district, Lt Col Mike John said. He estimated that 15 to 20 shots were fired.
The eight men and one woman who were treated at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center have been released, hospital spokeswoman Heather Chura Smith said.
Mayor Aftab Pureval called the incident “unacceptable” and credited officers at the scene for a quick response that likely saved lives.
“The gun violence we are witnessing is not the gun violence of the past that was centered around drug trafficking,” Pureval told a news conference. “We need the support of the community, of the citizens of Cincinnati to realize this is a devastating trend and to work with us to resolve disputes without gunshots.”
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Officers, at the scene before the shooting due to the large crowd that had gathered overnight, saw two suspects shooting at each other, John said. He said an officer shot the fleeing suspect, described only as wearing a white shirt and dark pants. It was not immediately clear if the suspect had been hit.
“The individual was actively firing his firearm at the time,” John said.
Officers began assisting the injured as the crowd encroached, John said. The police department’s civil unrest response team was brought in to disperse the gathering. Two noisy ‘punching balls’ were used to clear the area so that emergency medical teams could reach the injured.
“Most of these injuries are lower extremity injuries,” John said. “We have had officers apply tourniquets to the scene.”
Cincinnati police union president Dan Hils said the shooter was “part of a large unruly mob” on the street.
“Fortunately, anyone who is shot is expected to survive,” Hils said. “Members of a civil unrest response team, including the officer who shot the shooter, did a tremendous job controlling the chaotic and dangerous scene this morning.”
John said many of the people who fled the scene may have seen something valuable 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 the attacks were not believed to be 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 the fourth mass shooting in the area this year.
“The use of guns to resolve conflicts cannot become a normal part of our culture,” Pureval said.
Bacon reported from Arlington, Virginia. Erin Couch, Quinlan Bentley, Cameron Knight and Brook Endale, the Cincinnati Enquirer