Escaped inmate barricaded with hostage shot dead by police in SWAT standoff at Mason hotel, coroner says
MASON, Ohio (WXIX) - An escaped inmate was barricaded inside a Mason hotel room for several hours with a female hostage and was shot dead by police during their attempt to rescue her, according to Warren County Coroner Dr. Russell Uptegrove.
Thomas Cromwell, 27, died instantly as a result of a single gunshot to his head inside the Baymont hotel on the northwest corner of Interstate 71 and Kings Mills Road, the coroner tells FOX19 NOW.
They plan to conduct toxicology tests to determine if he was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol at the time, according to Dr. Uptegrove.
“He had somebody in the room with him,” the coroner said. “It was a hostage situation with a woman barricaded in that room. It went on for a while and then they made the decision to go in and rescue her.”
Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said Cromwell met a woman in the parking lot minutes before going up to her room.
Police found out where Cromwell was and when they approached the room, Fornshell said law enforcement could hear him threatening her.
That’s when the SWAT team got called in.
After the Warren County Tactical team arrived, those threats became more serious and Prosecutor Fornsehll says that’s when officers busted in to find Cromwell holding her at knifepoint.
“Initially, we did not believe it was a hostage situation, but once law enforcement became aware that Mr. Cromwell may be in that room, and attempted to make contact with him, it then turned into a hostage/standoff situation and based on the statements that officers heard, made at that point, and time as well as continuing through the night into the overnight hours,” explained Fornsehll. “At that point, they believed that her life was in imminent danger.
A spokesman for the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation told FOX19 NOW early Tuesday that Mason police requested BCI agents investigate an officer-involved shooting at the hotel.
Citing the ongoing investigation, BCI’s spokesman, Steve Irwin, provided no further information.
A couple of BCI agents were at the coroner’s office observing Cromwell’s autopsy Tuesday morning, according to Dr. Uptegrove.
Mason Police Department said in a prepared statement they were asked to respond to the Baymont hotel to assist the Hamilton County Sherriff’s Office to apprehend Cromwell.
“The Warren County Tactical Unit was called out,” the release states.
“At approximately 2:30 AM on July 12, 2022, the Tactical Unit made entry into the hotel. Cromwell was later pronounced deceased. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations and the Warren County Prosecutors Office are investigating the incident.”
The SWAT situation began at about 6:30 p.m. Monday when Cromwell refused to surrender to deputies who arrived to arrest him at about 3:30 p.m., according to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff’s officials say they alerted Mason police and Warren County’s SWAT team to respond and assist with Cromwell’s apprehension.
Hamilton County deputies went to the hotel to arrest Cromwell because the sheriff’s office was asked to investigate and apprehend him and his roommate, Shawn Black, 29, when the men escaped from the River City Correctional Center in Camp Washington over the weekend.
Black remains at large.
Cromwell and Black escaped through a broken window at River City sometime between midnight and 1 a.m. on Saturday, according to the sheriff’s office.
Prior to his escape, Cromwell was more than halfway through a sentencing for assault and child endangering where he was found guilty of slapping and spitting repeatedly in a 3-month-old child’s face, but prior to this incident, his criminal history hadn’t risen to this violent of a level.
The River City is a minimum-security, 180-day treatment and education facility governed by a corrections board supervised by the court.
It is not the responsibility of nor is it overseen by the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office in any way, according to a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office.
It also is not related to the Hamilton County Justice Center, the county jail that is overseen by the sheriff’s office.
The chief of security at River City and Cincinnati police tried to find the escapees and then notified the sheriff’s office to begin an investigation at about 4 p.m. Saturday.
The chief of security at River City told the sheriff’s office they found a window that was broken on Wednesday, July 6 and temporarily fixed it with plywood.
“It is unknown how or who broke the window,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release Monday night.
“At 10:30 am (Saturday), River City staff conducted a round at the facility and discovered that Thomas Cromwell’s bed was made up to look like he was in it, but bedding with pillows and clothes were found in the shape of a person. An emergency count was conducted and it was confirmed that two inmates were unaccounted for.”
FOX19 NOW reached out to River City to discuss the inmates’ escape and broken window, among issues.
We were referred to the facility’s executive director, with whom we left a lengthy voice mail and multiple questions.
We will update this story once we hear back.
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