Too Close for Comfort

Students from Cincinnati respond to the recent downtown shooting that took three lives

by Jacob Oedy

“There was a shooting today in…” This headline is all too common in American media. In the 17 years that have passed since 9/11, senseless shootings and bombings have become a frighteningly routine occurrence — until it happens on your doorstep.

Many Cedarville students experienced this kind of shock after the shooting in downtown Cincinnati on Sept. 6. Freshman and Cincinnati native Emma Waywood was deeply impacted by the nearness of the tragedy.

“It just hits very close to home, because when you see that kind of thing on the news it doesn’t really register for you because you think, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s happening over there,’ but when it’s so close to home it’s a very different feeling,” Waywood said. “It’s very sobering.”

The attack occurred inside the Fifth Third Center at Cincinnati’s well-known Fountain Square around 9 a.m. In the nearly five minutes between the gunman’s first shot and his death at the hands of the police, three Cincinnati citizens were killed and two more were injured.

Construction supervisor Richard Newcomer, Fifth Third consultant Prudhvi Raj Kandepi, and bank worker Luis Calderon all lost their lives in the attack. Whitney Austin, meanwhile, received 12 gunshot wounds before being dragged away by a security guard. She and Brian Sarver survived their wounds. Dozens of others avoided the hailstorm of bullets by running from the lobby or hiding in bathrooms or under desks.

The senseless attack could have lasted longer and cost more lives if not for the quick, professional, and heroic response of the Cincinnati Police Department. Within four minutes of the first gunshot, officers had surrounded the building in an attempt to find and stop the gunman, who carried hundreds of rounds in a black bag. Recently released body camera footage depicts them moving around the outside of the building before locating the gunman and subduing him with several rounds fired through a window.

The consequences of the attack will linger indefinitely for the survivors, loved ones of the lost, and the broader Cincinnati community.

“It was kind of shocking because I had recently been down there that past weekend,” Waywood said. “It could easily have been me if he had just come a few days sooner.”

Her sentiment is certainly shared by those who consider Cincinnati their home city, including myself. It is difficult not to feel in some way offended or angered by the attack. In another more obvious way, I feel threatened.

Whenever we hear about the most recent shooting, we quickly convince ourselves that such tragedies only belong to places and people so distant the story could almost be fiction. Surely, we think, it could never happen to us. But when I think about the video of police officers shooting at the gunman from a place I’ve stood, it becomes undeniably real. I, like Emma, faced the sudden revelation that it could happen to me.

Fountain Square is the symbolic center of the city. You cannot be a Cincinnati resident without being familiar with it.

Last fall, I ate at a Brazilian steakhouse across the street from the bank with the guys in my high school class. This spring, I visited the Graeters inside the Fifth Third building with my girlfriend after seeing a show at the Aranoff Center just a block away. On Sept. 6, a panicked woman hid in the bathroom of that same Graeters and frantically called the police. Had the attack occurred on any number of other days this year, I could have lost my life or the life of someone I hold dear.

And so, while Emma and I are not survivors of the event, as members of the Cincinnati community, we cannot help feeling shocked and saddened by it. It lingers with us, and all of Cincinnati, in a way that, at the risk of sounding callous, other shootings did not. And as a member of the Cincinnati community, as someone who considers it home, I want to join it in honoring the lost.

You may have noticed that the gunman has not been referred to by name in this article. This is out of a desire to dissuade others from seeking recognition or attention through senseless violence.
I also want to issue a sincere statement of gratitude and pride to the Cincinnati Police Department. While the badge has unfortunately been tainted by the racist or discriminatory actions of a few officers, the men and women of the CPD reminded the country of the true meaning of the uniform: the protection of the public. Without our fearless and prepared police department, Cincinnati would certainly be mourning the loss of far more than three.

Jacob Oedy is a freshman journalism major and a staff writer for off-campus news and arts and entertainment. He enjoys creative writing, investigating, and hanging out with the best hall on campus, Brock 3 East.

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