CINCINNATI — Gunmen opened fire at a crowded hip-hop nightclub early Sunday, killing one person, wounding 15 and sparking bedlam as partygoers fled the rampage, authorities said.
Police Chief Eliot Isaac said several local men apparently got into a dispute at the bar, and investigators believe multiple shooters were involved. No arrests had been made, and police said terrorism was not suspected.
“It was a chaotic scene,” Sgt. Eric Franz said. “The club was completely packed.”
The Cincinnati Police Department and ATF were investigating the rampage at the Cameo club in the city’s East End, a winding neighborhood along the Ohio River connecting downtown with some of its finer neighborhoods. Mayor John Cranley pleaded for anyone who had information about the rampage to notify police.
The city said in a tweet the conflict apparently began “between specific groups of individuals earlier in the day, escalating to the nightclub tragedy.” The deceased victim was identified as Obryan Spikes, 27.
“They do wand individuals and pat them down,” Isaac said about the nightclub, but he said several guns had been brought to the bar.
Cranley said the investigation, and the community’s healing, will be a “long process.” He said the shooting did not appear to be terrorism related, a fact that will provide little consolation to the victims.
“People were going to have a good time and ended up getting shot,” Cranley said. “That is totally unacceptable.”
One man who was inside the club described seeing a “big brawl” break out before hearing at least 20 shots being fired.
“It was a big gun because you heard it over the music,” said Mauricio Thompson, who said he’s from Cleveland. “Everybody’s running. Everybody scattered to get out of the club.”
Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac speaks alongside mayor John Cranley speaks during a news conference at police headquarters regarding a fatal shooting at the Cameo Nightclub, Sunday, March 26, 2017, in Cincinnati.
At least two people opened fire inside a crowded nightclub early Sunday morning, killing one person and wounding more than a dozen others in what authorities described as a chaotic scene.
Police operate at a crime scene outside the Cameo club, in background, after a fatal shooting, Sunday, March 26, 2017, in Cincinnati
Police work at a crime scene at the Cameo club after a reported fatal shooting, Sunday, March 26, 2017, in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac speaks alongside mayor John Cranley speaks during a news conference at police headquarters regarding a fatal shooting at the Cameo Nightclub, Sunday, March 26, 2017, in Cincinnati. At least two people opened fire inside a crowded nightclub early Sunday morning, killing one person and wounding more than a dozen others in what authorities described as a chaotic scene.
Thompson added that people “were yelling for security for a long time before” anyone responded.
City Manager Harry Black, who was out of town and traveling back to Cincinnati, issued a statement noting that “Cameo club has a history of gun violence including a shooting inside the club on New Year’s Day 2015 and a shooting in the parking lot in September of the same year.”
Franz said four off-duty officers were working parking lot security at the time of the shooting, two of whom were at the front door and heard the shots. The officers attempted to give first aid to the victim who eventually died, Franz said.
The parking lots near the nightclub were completely full, Franz said, which caused problems for first responders attempting to reach the shooting victims. Two people remained in critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, said spokeswoman Kelly Martin. Seven other people were treated for injuries, and at least five of them had been treated and released by noon Sunday.
“We are the region’s Level 1 trauma center, so we prepare and train for situations like this and hope they never happen,” Martin said.
Most of the other victims were treated and released at other local hospitals. Franz said several victims attempted to drive themselves to hospitals. At least two cars were abandoned when the drivers decided they needed paramedics to complete the trip to the hospital.
Gov. John Kasich said the state would provide any support the city needed. “Saddened to learn about last night’s shooting in Cincinnati. Our prayers are with the victims and families of all of those involved.,” Kasich tweeted.
Local restaurateur Jeff Ruby said on Twitter he was offering a $10,000 reward for anyone providing information leading to an arrest.
The club, on its Facebook page, says it is provides “excitement and entertainment to the tri-state.” The club hosts College Fridays that cater to a youthful crowd, when the minimum age is 18. Saturdays are “21+ grown and sexy night,” the Facebook page says.
The incident is the worst mass shooting for total number of victims so far in 2017, according to data from Gunviolencearchive.com.
There have been at least nine mass shootings (defined as having at least four victims) in Cincinnati since 2013. The most recent was Feb. 28, when six people were shot at an apartment building in Northside.
The worst mass shooting in recent Cincinnati history was on Aug. 21, 2015, when two people were killed and five injured in a shooting at the Eagles in Madisonville.