'Gun' at center of PD shooting was a belt buckle

Posted at 9:01 AM, Dec 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-26 11:24:06-05

CINCINNATI -- A "replica gun" at the center of an officer-involved shooting in East Price Hill turned out to be a gun-shaped belt buckle, police said.

Byron Mendez-Marroquin, 20, was arrested on two counts of aggravated menacing on Thursday. Police said he refused to put down what they believed was a gun, prompting an officer to fire shots.

Investigators said police received calls Thursday night on a man walking around the corners of Enright and Warsaw avenues with what appeared to be a gun. Callers said the man pointed the object at people.

When an officer arrived and confronted Mendez-Marroquin, officials said he refused to drop what appeared to be a weapon and started to raise it at the officer.

“At first I heard a gunshot, but then I was like, nah, it’s OK. Then I came downstairs and I came to look outside, and I saw a bunch of cops -- they blocked the road right there, and they had a car in the middle of the street and they kept checking it," witness Cori Hon said.

The Cincinnati Police Department said the officer fired several shots at Mendez-Marroquin, but he was not hit.

"I've been living here about 15 years, and this is the worst thing I've seen so far -- nothing worse than this," neighbor Edilson Ortiz said. "It's right across the street, right in front of our house. It's terrible."

After was booked at the Hamilton County Justice Center, the suspected gun was found to be a belt buckle, police testimony revealed at arraignment Saturday.

Mendez-Marroquin's lawyer told the court that his client is Guatemalan and does not speak English, which is why he did not put down his gun when police ordered him to do so. Mendez-Marroquin had an interpreter present at his Saturday morning arraignment.