Body camera and surveillance video could give police some clues about the man responsible for a deadly shooting that filled a busy skyscraper in downtown Cincinnati with screams and chaos.
At least three men were killed and two other people were injured when a gunman opened fire at the Fifth Third Center in the city’s popular Fountain Square just as the workday began on Thursday. When four police officers arrived, they shot the suspect through glass windows and killed him, Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac said.
“This could have been a bloodbath beyond imagination,” said Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, CNN affiliate WLWT reported.
The suspect, Omar Enrique Santa Perez, had a pistol and more than 200 rounds of ammunition, police said.
But much is still unclear about the 29-year-old suspect.
He was not a current or former employee at the center, whose primary tenant is the Fifth Third Bank headquarters, and officials say they are not sure of his connection with any surrounding businesses.
He lived about 15 miles west of Cincinnati in the town of North Bend, Ohio, since at least 2015, Isaac said.
Authorities were trying to determine what may have motivated the gunman to carry out the rampage but have said he acted alone.
A SWAT team and bomb squad investigators were searching Perez’s apartment hours after the shooting in the hopes of learning more about him, but police didn’t release any details about the search.
“This is not normal, and it shouldn’t be viewed as normal. This is abnormal. No other industrialized country has this level of active multiple shootings on a regular basis,” Mayor John Cranley said about the shooting. “I think there’s something deeply sick at work here.”
The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives responded to the scene and are assisting Cincinnati police in their investigation, the bureaus said.
The three men killed were Luis Felipe Calderon, 48; Pruthvi Raj Kandepi, 25; and Richard Newcomer, 64, according to the Hamilton County Coroner’s office.
Newcomer, a superintendent at Gilbane Building Company was working Thursday at the Fifth Third Center, Gilbane spokesman Wes Cotter said.
One of Newcomer’s colleagues, Juan Manuel Montoya, was taking a break when the shooting started. As he helped others take cover, Montoya said Newcomer was injured in the building’s basement and ran to get help from medics.
“I really feel sad that Rick didn’t make it, but I did as much as I could to get help,” Montoya told CNN affiliate WLWT.
Newcomer had worked for the company for four years, overseeing trade workers like Montoya.
“This is a shock that none of us could have ever expected and we’re focused on praying for his family and getting through this,” Cotter said.
The University of Cincinnati Medical Center received victims with gunshot wounds, a woman and three men, said Kelly Martin, senior director of UC Health. Two died, one is in critical condition and one remains in serious condition, she said.
‘I’m next, I’m next’
The gunman was among dozens of people visiting stores, business offices, hotels and eateries in Fountain Square on Thursday morning.
Police say he arrived sometime before 9 a.m. and went into a sandwich shop. Later, he accessed the high-rise building through a loading dock and opened fire.
Workers quickly fled the building and hid in bathrooms and closets when they heard a hail of gunfire and smelled gun power.
“All that was going through my mind was they’re coming, they’re coming for us. The shots got closer and closer and closer and closer and that’s all you can think about is, I’m next, I’m next, I’m next,” Janetta Cook who works at a bakery shop near the lobby told CNN affiliate WCPO.
Another employee, Michele Parks said she was about to go into the bank when Cook stopped her.
“There was nowhere we could go,” Parks told WCPO. “The only thing we could do was to protect each other, go in the bathroom and pray everything was okay.”
One witness, James Walker told CNN affiliate WLWT, said he heard about eight gunshots and got on his knees.
“I kind of got down on the ground and then all the cops started coming,” he said. “I’m still shaking.”