Findlay Market shoppers loyal, despite nearby shooting

CINCINNATI - The sweet, smooth melody belts from a saxophone just under the Findlay Market sign. Under the musician's foot is a tambourine, adding a slight jingle-jangle to his rhythmic beat, "If I only had a Brain," from "The Wizard of Oz."

Customers shuffle around the market, walking past him, occasionally placing money in his black, velvet-lined saxophone case.

With vendors handing pastries, kettle popcorn, coffee, gelato and fresh meats and cheeses, over the counter to a plethora of customers, who line the walkways—you wouldn't know a shooting occurred just two days earlier a few blocks away.

Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig said 23-year-old Christopher Foster is in critical condition at University Hospital after being shot in his chest, leg and head, totaling seven wounds, shortly after 2 p.m. Friday in the 1800 block of Race Street near Findlay Market.

But vendors at Findlay Market said business hasn't suffered.

"Yesterday we had a very strong day. We thought that attendance would be down at the market because of what happened, but there were a lot of new people that came out—fresh faces that came through the door," said Stefan Skirtz, owner of Skirtz & Johnston.

"It was kind of surprising, so it was a really good day."

The city-owned market had $11 million worth of renovations put into it, said Cheryl Eagleson, marketing director of Findlay Market—making it visually appealing as well as "clean and safe." It's attracted folks from all over the Tri-State.

P.J. Meyer and Jeanette Lisec of East Walnut Hills are fairly new to the market and say what happened Friday won't deter them from their new favorite place to shop.

"Things happen, you just can't really avoid certain areas because of violence. This is a great place to come to and we don't feel it should be sacrificed because of it," Meyer said.

"Now that we started coming, we're going to keep coming back for more," Lisec said.

And Hazel Pegues of the West End just moved back to Cincinnati. She said, it's her ritual to come over to Findlay Market every Sunday after church.

''People cannot afford to let violence and things that may happen, things happen in life... You can walk outside and get hit by a car accidentally, so to not let that detour you from being in your neighborhood, living in your neighborhood, supporting your neighborhood and your city and your country."

Thirteen-year-old Damonte Harvill, who comes to the market with his grandfather Darrell Walker every Sunday, easily summed up his experience.

"I have fun really."

The fun Harvill and Walker experience together won't stop, they said, despite the shooting nearby.

The police chief said when Officer Charles Knapp confronted Foster and told him he was an officer; Foster pulled a handgun out of his pocket and began shooting at Knapp.

"There was an immediate threat to the officer's life. There was an immediate threat to responding officers. There was a threat certainly to the public," Craig said. "I think really it does say it all there."

According to Knapp's statement in the report, Alexander turned and pointed a gun at him and Knapp fired.

The officer has been placed on administrative leave pending three investigations, but Craig said initial reports show that he acted in accordance with police policy.

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