'Chaos' as Cincinnati nightclub shooting leaves 1 dead, 16 injured

Chief: Fight at Cameo Night Club sparked shooting

CINCINNATI -- Gunfire killed one person and wounded 16 others inside a crowded Cincinnati nightclub early Sunday morning. The rush to escape left still more injured.

The crime likely was the culmination of a fight that began hours earlier Saturday, city spokesman Rocky Merz said. It is the largest mass shooting in the United States so far this year, according to data WCPO has reviewed.

O'Bryan Spikes, 27, was the victim who died, Police Chief Eliot Isaac said. Another victim was in "extremely critical condition," he said.

A friend shared this photo of O'Bryan Spikes, who was killed at Cameo Night Club. Photo courtesy Serita Maria

"I've heard that the officers that were there on scene were literally stepping over victims to get to the more critically injured victims," said Sgt. Dan Hils, police union president.

Investigators believe multiple people opened fire. It's too early to know if any gunmen may be among the wounded, Isaac said.

No one has been arrested.

Watch the chief's entire news conference below:

 

The Cincinnati Police Department Homicide Unit was called to Cameo Night Club, a large, warehouse-style venue on Kellogg Avenue near the Ohio River, at about 2:20 a.m.

Mauricio Thompson said a "mini brawl" broke out. There were hundreds of people inside the club at the time.

"Within that mini brawl, maybe like 20 shots been fired -- people running, dodging, trying to get out of the way," Thompson 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. It was just crazy."

There's no indication the crime is an act of terror, according to Lt. Col. Paul Neudigate. Merz said the club has a history of gun violence.

"This is America. We should have the right to go out and have a good time, and we should not be expecting that gunfights will take place in nightclubs," Mayor John Cranley said.

He acknowledged emotions may be running high, but asked anyone looking for payback to let investigators do their work.

 

Police don't have a description of the suspects, and Capt. Kimberly Williams said they were having trouble getting witnesses to cooperate.

"If anyone was a witness to anything that happened, obviously we need you to come forward with any information that you have, with anything that can help us identify the suspect involved in this incident," Williams said.

Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers at 513-352-3040. Callers can remain anonymous.

"We need people to come forward," Cranley said. "We need people to have courage to come forward to identify the shooter or shooters in this case."

 

Isaac said police believe several people fired shots inside the club; initial reports were conflicting as to whether more than one gunman was responsible.

"Several local men got into some type of a dispute inside of the bar, and it escalated into shots being fired from several individuals," Isaac said. He said police would continue interviewing witnesses and analyzing shell casings and other ballistics information.

Federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also were at the scene Sunday morning. Police focused attention on a white car nearby; it was placed on a tow truck at about 6:30 a.m.

There was a prior shooting inside Cameo on New Year's Day 2015, Merz said, and another in the parking lot that September.

Williams said there have been "multiple problems" at Cameo in the past.

"I do believe it was a very large crowd earlier this evening when it started," Williams said. "But just a lot of chaos, obviously, when the shots went off -- people just trying to get out of the way, get out of harm's way."

 

According to ABC News, Sgt. Eric Franz described the situation a "large and complicated homicide scene." Nine of the victims were taken to University of Cincinnati Medical Center; two were in critical condition, and seven were stable.

Two were taken to The Christ Hospital. Both had minor injuries and have been treated and released, according to hospital spokeswoman Kendall Herold.

Franz said other victims were taken to Bethesda North Hospital, Mercy West Hospital and Anderson Mercy Hospital.

 

People injured in the rush to leave the club were treated at the scene, Assistant Fire Chief Roy Winston said.

RELATED: Officers had to step over some to help most critical

Franz said Cameo hires police officers for extra security, CNN reports. Two officers were stationed at the club's entrance and another two in the parking lot, according to Franz, but Isaac said they don't act as "bouncers."

Gov. John Kasich tweeted he was saddened to learn about the shooting and offered prayers to the victims and their families.

"I've instructed our administration to offer any assistance the state can provide," Kasich wrote.

MORE: What local officials say about nightclub shooting

Cameo Night Club describes itself on its Facebook page as providing entertainment and excitement to the Tri-State. The Facebook page says the club is restricted to people 21 and up on Saturday nights and is open until 4 a.m. Sunday. It was previously called Club Cameo, and before that, a gay club called Adonis.

Before it became a nightclub venue, the large building housed Michael G's restaurant. It is located in Cincinnati's East End neighborhood, not far from Lunken Airport.

Kellogg Avenue was closed between Wilmer Avenue and Salem Road for several hours Sunday morning.

For WCPO's complete coverage on the Cameo nightclub shooting, visit wcpo.com/cameo.

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