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CINCINNATI – Moments before the armed, mentally-ill man who was shot and killed by police on Wednesday left his house in Clifton, he made threatening comments to his mother, saying "it would be a bloodbath."
And as Interim Police Chief Paul Humphries said at a press conference Thursday, "We'll never know what the plan was, if there was a plan. We'll never know what could've happened had the officers not acted so appropriately, so quickly."
His mother notified mental health representatives that her son, Roger Ramundo, 32, walked out of their Thrall Street home at approximately 1:30 p.m. with a gun tucked in his waistband and that he was off his medication. Later, police found Ramundo armed with two extra magazines, pepper spray, a folding knife and a tactical flashlight.
"I want to offer our sincere condolences to the Ramundo family," Humphries said. "Yesterday was truly a tragedy."
Ramundo suffered from bipolar and generalized anxiety disorders, according to police. Humphries played the call asking police to locate Ramundo and take him to a hospital for psychiatric care. The caller told police that Ramundo was armed.
Police went to Arlin's because the caller said he liked to go there to eat.
"We are devastated by the loss of our son Roger," Ramundo's family said in a statement.
Police received calls that there was a suspicious man in the area, walking toward Ludlow Avenue. Ramundo, who was well-known in the community, entered Arlin's Bar – a place he often visited.
It was then officers were dispatched to help calm Ramundo at approximately 3 p.m. Two officers, one of whom had previous positive interactions with him, spotted him sitting on the back deck of the bar, Humphries said.
The chief provided the following account of the struggle:
As the officer tried to engage Ramundo in a conversation, he became combative and a violent, hand-to-hand struggle started, Humphries said. Officers asked patrons to leave the deck area as a supervisor directed three more officers to enter Arlin's from the front.
Ramundo tried to reach under his untucked shirt for his gun, and the five officers tried to subdue him, with Officer Bryan Gabel grabbing onto his arm. Unable to control Ramundo, an officer fired a Taser into his back and he was thrown to the floor.
As the struggle continued, two more Tasers were deployed, lodging a barb in the lower leg of the officer who was Ramundo's back, police said. When the officer rolled off Ramundo, he brandished the semi-automatic .40-caliber Sig Sauer P226 handgun and fired one shot. No officers were hit.
"Officers did everything they could to not have to use deadly force," Humphries said.
Ramundo continued to raise the gun up.
"It is now to the point where it is a life or death situation," Humphries said.
Gabel removed his gun and fired two shots at close range into Ramundo's back, left side, Humphries said. Ramundo was then taken to University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 5:30 p.m., according to the Hamilton County Coroner's Office.
"It's easy for us to talk it about now, but we were hot, we're sweaty, we're fighting, and there's no way to control anything and the gun comes up and Mr. Ramundo fires a shot.
"Gabel was getting out of the line of fire and making that decision of 'what do I need to do to end this threat, what do I need to do to save lives here?'" Humphries said.
Gabel was hired in October 1990, and resigned in January 2008 as a sergeant, according to his personnel file. He earned multiple commendations for community engagement and investigative skills while serving in four of the city's five districts during his career.
Late in 2007, Gabel, along with three other sergeants and a lieutenant, was demoted to the rank of police officer after an internal investigation found officers were allowed to watch television and browse the Internet while on duty.
He was rehired at the rank of police officer in February 2009 and was assigned to District 5.
Ramundo's next-door neighbor in Clifton, who identified himself as Dan, said he had known Ramundo for years and never had any issues.
Ramundo was not new to the neighborhood and Dan said he was always very friendly, but seemed a bit troubled recently.
"He did say something a couple of days ago. He said ‘I've had a rough time lately but I'm making it,' or something to that regard, and I wasn't going to question him on that," Dan said. "That sounds a little significant to me. I know he's been struggling with some things, but violence ... I don't understand it."
So far this year, the police department's mental health response team has been dispatched 3,614 times. Of the department's 966 police officers, a little more than one-third have completed mental health response training at the police academy.
The professional standards section (internal affairs), the homicide unit and the citizens complaint authority are actively investigating the incident.
"The loss of a life is always tragic, and the city of Cincinnati will keep the family and friends of the deceased in our thoughts and prayers," Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory said in an official statement. "As we wait for more information about the incident, it is important to remember that, as always, there will be three separate investigations, the criminal investigation, internal affairs and the citizens complaint authority. We will release more information about the incident as details are gathered."
View the Cincinnati Police Department's presentation of the incident below or at http://goo.gl/s6arFv.
WCPO digital editors Maxim Alter, Brian Mains and Greg Noble contributed to this report.
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