The investigation into the shooting inside a crowded Cincinnati night club that killed one and wounded 15 others early Sunday morning will take a long time, said Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley.
No arrests had been made as of Sunday evening, and Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac couldn’t confirm if any of the possible shooters were among those transported to the hospital.
Around 1:30 a.m. Sunday, the city’s emergency dispatch center began receiving calls of shots being fired at the Cameo Night Club at 4601 Kellogg Ave. in the city’s East End.
Isaac said the scene was chaotic as a couple hundred people were at the “very large establishment,” roughly 17,200 square feet.
O’Bryan Spikes, 27, was shot to death during the altercation. At least five people remained hospitalized late Sunday, two of whom were in critical condition and three listed in stable condition, according to the Associated Press. Isaac said Sunday morning that some of the other gunshot victims had already been treated and released from the hospital.
“What we know at this point in the investigation is several local men got in some type of dispute inside the bar and it escalated into shots being fired from several individuals,” he said at a late Sunday morning press conference.
Cincinnati Police Sgt. Daniel Hils, president of the Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 69, said there were two factions involved in the shooting, and “for whatever reason went at each other last night and it turned to gunfire.”
“When you think of how brazen that is, there were four off-duty policemen working a detail out here in the parking lot, and it’s a very cold-hearted and cruel thing to shoot anybody to begin with, when you think about firing off a weapon in a crowded night club like this, you’re talking about a very high probability that people were shot who were not intended targets,” Hils said.
Investigators have ruled out the incident being an act of terrorism, but Cranley said that makes no difference to shooting victims and their family.
“They’ve been terrorized by gun violence,” the mayor said. “It’s important for everyone to understand that people were just going to have a good time and ended up getting shot. That’s totally unacceptable. This is a country where you should be able to go out and have a good time and not be in fear of getting shot.”
Isaac said the club’s management performs the internal security — including frisking and using a hand-held wand metal detector — but still firearms were brought into the building. Four off-duty police officers are contracted by the club’s owner to patrol the parking lot. They were not inside the building or at the door.
This isn’t the first shooting at the bar, according to the Associated Press. There was a shooting inside the club on New Year’s Day in 2015 and a shooting in the parking lot that September, Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black said.
Cameo Night Club is surrounded by businesses, including a couple of nearby gas stations, a used auto parts junk yard across the street and the Hitching Post, neighborhood restaurant just to the west. Locals say the area just east of downtown Cincinnati along the Ohio River is generally quiet after hours, outside the activity at the night club and the few gas stations.
The club caters to the 18 and over “college crowd on Friday nights and the 21 and over “grown and sexy” crowd on Saturday nights, according to the club’s Facebook page.
Mauricio Thompson, a patron of Cameo, told our news partners, WCPO 9 On Your Side, that he believed upward of 20 shots were fired early Sunday morning. He said there was a fight and cries for security to intervene before the first shots rang out.
Then chaos ensued as people rushed to escape the danger, he said.
“Once I got outside, people coming out bloody, gunshot wounds on them, some of their friends carrying them to the car, rushing them to the hospital,” Thompson told WCPO.
Robert Woods, of Fairfield, said the shooting didn’t make any sense, and “it’s just not safe anymore.”
“It’s a shame you can’t go out dancing, out to the club without there always being some trouble,” he said. “That’s the reason why I tell my kids to stay away from those clubs. It wasn’t like when I grew up. When I grew up, you could go out dancing and have a nice time and it’s over. But these days, these kids got guns and no, I don’t want my kids to have no part of that.”
Amanda Beck, who works at the Hitching Post, first heard about the shooting when her uncle, who works with her, texted her at around 6:30 a.m. Sunday.
“I was taken aback a little bit,” she said. “It was shocking because I didn’t understand why someone would shoot somebody … we just need to be better people.”
Beck said she feels “pretty safe” working along side her family, and they close by 8:30 p.m. “Usually the trouble happens a lot later,” she said, though she added it’s “definitely concerning” no one has been arrested. “But I know we have great police and everyone is doing everything they can, so I feel as safe as I possibly can.”
Cranley said he spoke with Ohio Gov. John Kasich Sunday morning. Kasich posted two tweets Sunday morning indicating he was “saddened” by the shooting and had “instructed our administration to offer any assistance the state can provide.”
The Cincinnati Police Department is being assisted in the investigation by the local offices of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the FBI.
Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 513-352-3040.