Cincinnati police release interviews more than a year after Fifth Third shooting

Updated: Sep. 25, 2019 at 3:10 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - More than a year after the mass shooting at the Fifth Third Center downtown, Cincinnati police released the interviews conducted with victims, witnesses, and officers who responded.

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Omar Enrique Santa-Perez, 29, walked into the lobby of the bank’s headquarters Sept. 6, 2018, and opened fire, killing three people, and injuring two others.

The deceased victims are Richard Newcomer, Prudhvi Raj Kandepi, and Luis Felipe Calderon. The surviving victims are Brian Sarver and Whitney Austin.

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Wednesday police released a detailed timeline of the shooting based on timestamps from Fifth Third security video:

  • 09:06:09 – Mr. Richard Newcomer and Mr. Brian Sarver, standing in the lobby near the north stairwell, are shot by Santa-Perez from the stairs leading from the Potbelly’s Sandwich Shop into the Fifth Third Center lobby.
  • 09:06:30 – Santa-Perez moved south through the lobby toward the revolving door to Fountain Square.
  • 09:06:36 – Santa-Perez shot Mr. Prudhvi Raj Kandepi as he entered the revolving door from Fountain Square.
  • 09:06:40 – Santa-Perez moved to the security desk, placed the shoulder bag on the desk, and reloaded his firearm.
  • 09:07:03 – Santa-Perez moved from the security desk and again shot Mr. Prudhvi Raj Kandepi multiple times.
  • 09:07:10 – Santa-Perez returned to the security desk and reloaded his firearm.
  • 09:07:49 – Santa-Perez moved about the middle and south parts of the lobby observing the elevators.
  • 09:08:00 – Santa-Perez fired shots toward the middle bank of elevators.
  • 09:08:03 – Santa-Perez fired one shot through the lobby window toward Fountain Square.
  • 09:08:05 – Santa-Perez returned to the security desk and reloaded his firearm.
  • 09:08:50 – Santa-Perez moved to the middle bank of elevator and fired shots.
  • 09:08:54 – Santa-Perez returned to the security desk and reloaded his firearm.
  • 09:09:29 – Santa-Perez moved to the revolving door and shot Ms. Whitney Austin
  • multiple times as she entered from Fountain Square.
  • 09:09:34 – Santa-Perez returned to the security desk and reloaded his firearm.
  • 09:10:05 – Santa-Perez moved to the middle bank of elevators.
  • 09:10:10 – Santa-Perez returned to the security desk.
  • 09:10:25 – Mr. Luis Calderon and Mr. Edward Sketch exited a north elevator and walked toward the Walnut Street side of lobby. Santa-Perez moved toward Mr. Calderon and Mr. Sketch and began shooting at them from behind, striking Mr. Calderon.
  • 09:10:30 – Police officers arrived outside the Fountain Square side lobby windows. Police Specialist Greg Toyeas moved to the lobby door. Santa-Perez moved back to security desk while pointing his firearm at Specialist Toyeas.
  • 09:10:33 – Police Officers Jennifer Chilton and Eric Kaminsky discharged their firearms at Santa-Perez through the lobby window.
  • 09:10:37 – Police Specialist Toyeas discharged his firearm one time through the door at Santa-Perez. Santa-Perez moved north through the lobby.
  • 09:10:39 – Police Specialist Toyeas fired a second shot at Santa-Perez. Police Officer Etter discharged his shotgun though the lobby window, striking Santa-Perez. Santa-Perez fell to the floor.
  • 09:10:41 – Police Officer Etter discharged his shotgun a second time.
  • 09:11:28 – Police officers entered the lobby and secured Santa-Perez.

Police say an examination of Officer Chilton’s firearm revealed she fired her handgun six times and examination of Officer Kaminksy’s patrol rifle once.

They say Criminal Investigation Section personnel, Homicide Unit, and Personal Crimes Unit investigators, and Criminalistics Squad personnel all coordinated for the investigation following the shooting.

During the follow-up investigation, officials found that Santa-Perez filed a lawsuit against NBC Universal and TD Ameritrade in December 2017.

That lawsuit was transferred to federal court in January 2018 and dismissed on June 6, 2018. He immediately refiled the lawsuit.

One day before the shooting, Santa-Perez contacted the attorney representing NBC Universal to ask about the lawsuit, police say.

The attorney told the gunman the lawsuit once again had been dismissed, this time 19 days after the initial dismissal.

Cincinnati Police Department Homicide Unit investigators say they interviewed his family members who told them Santa-Perez suffered mental health issues.

They told police he was diagnosed with a mental health disorder and prescribed medication in 2008.

Police also found that between November 2010 and November 2011, while living in Florida, the gunman and family members were involved in several incidents related to his mental health requiring police and court involvement.

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After the shooting, an investigation detailed the injuries to the victims and gunman:

  • Richard Newcomer suffered a single gunshot wound to his upper left back. He was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center where he died from his injuries.
  • Prudhvi Raj Kandepi suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the head, torso, and upper extremities. He also died from his injuries at UCMC.
  • Luis Felipe Calderon suffered gunshot wounds to his chest, back, and right hand. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
  • Brian Sarver suffered a gunshot wound to his left side. He was taken to UCMC where he was treated for his injury.
  • Whitney Austin suffered gunshot wounds to the left side of her neck, right breast, both feet, and both arms. She was also taken to UCMC where she was treated for her injuries.
  • The gunman was shot in his head, torso, and left lower extremity. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The investigation shows he fired a minimum of 33 rounds during the shooting. Officials recovered 233 rounds of ammunition from his shoulder bag found on the security desk.

Four Cincinnati officers discharged their firearms a total of 11 times.

During the follow-up investigation, Sarver told police he, Newcomer, and Jim Meyer were discussing a work project in the lobby of the Fifth Third Center on the Fountain Square side. He said his back was facing the Potbelly’s Sandwich Shop when he heard gunshots.

When he realized he’d been shot, he told police he ran down the stairs to the basement hallway which leads to the loading dock but was unable to get to the hallway without an access key.

Sarver said he broke the window in the hallway door to get through when Newcomer arrived with his access key and told him he’d also been shot.

Both men made their way onto the loading dock where they were taken to UCMC where Newcomer later died.

Whitney Austin told police during her follow-up interview she was on a conference call when she walked through the revolving doors into the Fifth Third Center lobby from Fountain Square.

She said she saw holes in the glass then felt gunshots hit her and fell to the ground.

Austin said she could feel blood rise in her throat and thought about her children which caused her to try to move to another location. As she tried to move, she told police she heard more gunshots so she decided to lay still fearing she would be shot again if the gunman saw her move.

Fifth Third employee Jackie Gallagher was also in the lobby during the shooting but was not shot because the gunman never saw her.

Gallagher told police she was walking down the stairs leading into the Fifth Third Center from Potbelly’s when she heard gunshots.

She said she heard someone yell they’d been hit and saw a person with a gunshot wound on the stairs leading down to the loading dock so she hid under the security desk.

Her hiding spot is the same security desk the gunman used to rest the bag holding his ammunition. He returned to that desk multiple times to reload his gun during the shooting, but never saw Gallagher hiding underneath.

She told police the gunman moved to toward the elevator every time they ‘dinged’ and shot at them. He did not say a word during the shooting, she says.

Gallagher didn’t come out of hiding until the shooter was down, she says.

Fellow Fifth Third employee Edward Sketch was in the elevator with Calderon. He told police they were going to the lobby to get coffee.

Sketch says when they were about three steps off the elevator they heard gunshots and saw the gunman about 15 feet away and moving toward them. He says he immediately ran toward the Walnut Street exit as the gunman fired shots at him.

Fifth Third employees Nick Wood and Ian Neises also escaped the gunfire.

Both employees told police they were on elevators that opened to the lobby where they saw the gunman who began shooting at them.

Neises says he ran back into the elevator where he fell to his knees as gunfire followed him, but he was not hit.

Wood told police he saw shattered glass and a person on the ground when his elevator door opened and made eye contact with the gunman. He says two shots were fired at him, but he escaped back into the elevator.

Officers Antonio Etter, Gregory Toyeas, Jennifer Chilton, Eric Kaminsky were also interviewed as part of the follow-up to the investigation.

All officers detailed responding to the ‘active shooter’ call, grabbing their guns, and moving toward the building exchanging gunfire with Santa-Perez.

Officer Etter was the first to arrive on the scene and is the officer who took down the gunman.

He said he was working an off-duty detail when he saw people running from the area.

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Officer Etter says he was told by a bystander there was a person shooting inside the Fifth Third Center so he notified the Emergency Communication Center.

He says he retrieved his shotgun from his vehicle and approached the building.

When the gunman began shooting at responding officers, Etter says he fired shots back, hitting the gunman who fell to the floor. He says he then fired a second round at the gunman.

Once the gunman was down, Etter says he assisted in clearing the area to ensure there were no other suspects.

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