Autopsy scheduled Friday for armed man killed in standoff after trying to break into FBI Cincinnati headquarters
CLINTON COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX/AP) - An autopsy will be performed Friday on the armed suspect who tried to break into Cincinnati FBI headquarters Thursday and then fled into a farm field several miles away, using his car for cover as he exchanged gunfire with law enforcement before ultimately being killed following an hours-long standoff.
The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office said 42-year-old Ricky Shiffer’s body arrived at their morgue at about 10 p.m. Thursday.
Law enforcement officials, meanwhile, are continuing to investigate whether Shiffer, who is from Columbus, had ties to far-right extremist groups including the Proud Boys, the Associated Press reports, citing an unnamed official.
Shiffer is believed to have been in Washington in the days leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, and may have been present at the U.S. Capitol building on the day of the attack, the AP reports.
He was armed with a nail gun and AR-15-style-rifle when he went to the FBI office at about 9 a.m. Thursday and tried to break in, according to initial emergency communication reports.
An FBI Cincinnati statement late Thursday night called the incident an “agent-involved shooting.” The FBI’s Inspection Division is investigating and reviewing the shooting, the bureau said Friday.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, at the request of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, said they are investigating the use of force that happened during Thursday’s incident.
No law enforcement officers or bystanders were hurt.
“Unfounded attacks on the integrity of the FBI erode respect for the rule of law and are a grave disservice to the men and women who sacrifice so much to protect others,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement Thursday night.
“Violence and threats against law enforcement, including the FBI, are dangerous and should be deeply concerning to all Americans. Every day I see the men and women of the FBI doing their jobs professionally and with rigor, objectivity, and a fierce commitment to our mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution. I am proud to serve alongside them.”
The suspect tried to breach the FBI’s Visitor Screening Facility at its headquarters around 9:15 a.m., the agency said in a tweet Thursday morning.
An alarm went off, prompting armed FBI agents to respond and the suspect fled onto northbound Interstate 71.
Troopers spotted the suspect’s vehicle, a Ford Crown Victoria, in Warren County a rest area on northbound Interstate 71 at about 9:37 a.m., said Lt. Nathan Dennis, a patrol spokesman.
They tried to pull him over, but at least one gunshot was fired from inside Shiffer’s vehicle as troopers pursued him from behind, Dennis said.
The pursuit continued once Shiffer exited I-71 onto eastbound State Route 73 and then went north on Smith Road, into Clinton County’s Chester Township.
The vehicle passed over I-71 on Smith Road and stopped around 10 a.m. near Van Tress Road.
Shiffer exited the vehicle and exchanged gunshots with officers, Nathan said.
Using the vehicle as a cover, Shiffer continued to hold authorities at bay and the standoff unfolded there in a farm field.
It was about a half-mile from I-71, but authorities shut both sides of the highway down for several hours as a precaution, according to EMA director, Thomas Breckel.
“Either the gentleman gives up or it’s determined through other means. The suspect is currently in plain view of police. They can still observe him. He is by his vehicle. He has a gray shirt on and body armor. I don’t know if it’s a plate carrier or what,” Breckel said.
A lockdown also was in effect within a 1-mile radius of the standoff location.
Both sides of I-71 reopened just before the standoff ended as authorities decided it was far enough away from the standoff scene and was not a risk to the public, Breckel said.
OSP and other law enforcement jurisdictions tried to negotiate with Shiffer for hours to bring about a peaceful end, but negotiations failed, according to Nathan.
“Once negotiations failed, officers attempted to take the suspect into custody by utilizing less lethal tactics,” he said. “At approximately 3:42 p.m., the suspect raised a firearm and shots were fired by law enforcement officers.”
The suspect was shot and died from his injuries on the scene.
“The FBI is now reviewing this agent-involved shooting,” the FBI said in a statement late Thursday.
“The FBI takes all shooting incidents involving our agents or task force members seriously. In accordance with FBI policy, the shooting incident is under investigation by the FBI’s Inspection Division. The review process is thorough and objective, and is conducted as expeditiously as possible under the circumstances.”
A social media account “@rickywshifferjr” posted on the social media platform founded by former President Donald Trump, Truth Social, appeared to reference his attempt to storm an FBI office.
The post about the FBI office attack was made minutes after the Ohio State Highway Patrol said the incident at the office in Cincinnati began.
“Well, I thought I had a way through bullet proof glass, and I didn’t,” the user posted at 9:29 a.m. Thursday. “If you don’t hear from me, it is true I tried attacking the F.B.I., and it’ll mean either I was taken off the internet, the F.B.I. got me, or they sent the regular cops while.”
It’s unclear whether the user was attempting to write more, as the post stops after, “while.”
Authorities have not yet confirmed that the account belongs to the suspect.
However, a law enforcement source told CNN Thursday night that a photo on the account matched a government ID photo of the suspect.
“People, this is it,” the user wrote after the FBI searched former President Donald Trump’s home. “I hope a call to arms comes from someone better qualified, but if not, this is your call to arms from me.
In that post, the user encouraged people to go to gun and pawn shops to, “get whatever you need to be ready for combat.”
When another person responded to the user saying that they would be sending his photo and information to the FBI, the user responded by saying, “Bring them on.”
The user also wrote that people were heading to gather in Palm Beach and if the FBI broke up the group, “kill them.”
The user of the account also claimed they were present in Washington, DC, on January 6, but did not say whether they entered the Capitol.
Truth Social currently has no account now for “@rickywshifferjr.”
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AP contributed to this report.