CINCINNATI -- A usually busy Fountain Square was empty Thursday afternoon, except for a single piece of yellow tape. Down the street, a woman screamed and sobbed into the arms of a Cincinnati police officer.
About an hour earlier, a Fifth Third Bank employee said he saw a gunman dressed in business attire walk into the lobby and spray bullets at innocent people. The employee saw the gunman as he exited a lobby elevator. He jumped back inside, narrowly avoiding a hail of bullets -- he heard them strike the elevator door when it closed.
Three to four Cincinnati police officers exchanged fire with the gunman, Chief Eliot Isaac said. One of the officers shot and killed the gunman, Mayor John Cranley said.
The gunman killed three people. Another two people were injured. Wes Cotter, a spokesman for the Providence, Rhode Island-based Gilbane Building Co., identified one of the victims as 64-year-old Richard Newcomer. He was working on a project in the building for the company.
The shooter entered the loading dock area of Fifth Third Bank headquarters and opened fire at about 9 a.m., Isaac said. The suspect then entered the lobby area, where he shot at people and police officers.
No police officers were injured. The two people who were shot were transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
The identity of the shooter has not been released, but Lt. Steve Saunders said the gunman was not a former or current employee of Fifth Third Bank.
Isaac said at least one of the victims died on scene. There is no information yet about how many shots the gunman and officers fired, he said. The gunman's weapon was recovered from the scene. Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said the gunman fired multiple rounds from a handgun.
Cranley said officers responded “within seconds” of the shooting.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Cranley said. “This is not normal, and it shouldn’t be viewed as normal. This is abnormal. No other industrialized country has this level of active multiple shooting on a regular basis … I think there’s something deeply sick at work here, and we as a country have got to deal with it.”
Isaac said it appears officials at Fifth Third Bank properly responded with lockdown procedures.
"These are things we see happening across the country, and we all have to be vigilant and prepared to deal with these situations," Isaac said.
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms officials were on scene to sweep the building, ATF spokesperson Suzanne Dabkowski said.
Fountain Square is closed to foot traffic, and all events are canceled. Federal Bureau of Investigations agents are on scene. SWAT cleared the building.
Fifth Third Bank headquarters is a 30-story building that towers over Walnut Street.
Isaac said investigators will conduct interviews, process the crime scene and review security and body camera footage in the coming days.
The last fatal shooting reported in the Central Business District involved a single victim and occurred on July 7, 2014, according to the city's open data portal. The shooting took place on 8th Street and Garfield Place right outside the main branch of the Cincinnati library.