PD: 'Game-changing' tech will solve more cases

Posted at 7:03 PM, Mar 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-18 17:24:53-04

CINCINNATI — Sophisticated firearm-matching technology on loan to the area allowed for the indictment of suspect Rayshawn Herald in connection to the January 2015 Great American Tower shooting incidents, Cincinnati police said Friday morning.

Ken Parker, criminal division chief of the Office of the U.S. Attorney, called NIBIN (National Integrated Ballistic Information Network) a "game changer" since it allows law enforcement to electronically compare and match criminal firearms evidence.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) facilitated a loan of the expensive equipment to a Miami Valley crime lab to obtain analog images of the markings made by a firearm on shell casings obtained from the crime scene. These images can then be electronically compared with a national network to generate a list of potential matches.

The NIBIN system allowed Herald, the suspect in a "Wild West" shootout on Reading Road last May, to be indicted in federal court for possession of the firearm used in the four separate shooting incidents at the Great American Tower, police say.

Parker promised that Cincinnati law enforcement will work with national and local partners to use NIBIN to solve other violent crimes and "take back our community." 

"We’re going to pull out all the stops and make every effort to apprehend these individuals," Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac added, stating CPD expects to have permanent access to NIBIN by the end of the year.

The Hamilton County Coroner’s Office had its own NIBIN system until September 2011, when federal budget cuts ended the service in the Tri-State and in many parts of the country. That forced firearms examiners at the coroner's office to recognize patterns on their own.

The Great American Tower shootings happened after business hours, and only security officers were inside when shots were fired, building officials said at the time. The guards heard some of the shots and alerted Cincinnati police, authorities said.

In May 2015, Herald was arrested and charged in connection with a shootout at the Shell gas station on Reading Road; stray bullets hit a Cincinnati Metro bus and the vehicle of a father driving his son to Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

Police said Herald was standing outside the gas station when someone in a passing vehicle opened fire at him. Herald returned fire, police said, with then-chief Jeffrey Blackwell describing it as a "Wild West shootout."

Herald was charged with felonious assault, discharge of a firearm on or near prohibited premises, having weapons under disability and carrying a concealed weapon. According to Hamilton County court records, he was sentenced to spend a total of six years in prison on the discharge of a firearm and having weapons under disability charges; a grand jury ignored the felonious assault charge, and the concealed weapon charge was dismissed.

Court records indicate Herald is appealing the decision in the Reading Road case. Cincinnati attorney Timothy Bicknell is representing Herald in the appeal, according to the most recent document filed. The Hamilton County Court of Appeals has not ruled on the case. Herald is being held at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, according to a federal court filing.