CINCINNATI — Happy 2019!
As we celebrate the new year, let’s take a look back at what defined the Tri-State in 2018.
Our Top 9 stories of the year aren’t the most important ones necessarily, just the most popular ones. Here are the top stories of the year, based on the number of times they were clicked:
The Sept. 6 shooting on Fountain Square rocked the Tri-State.
A gunman entered the Fifth Third Center at about 9 a.m. and randomly fired shots. Four people, including the guman, were dead in a matter of minutes. The shooter killed Prudhvi Raj Kandepi, 25; Richard Newcomer, 64; and Luis Felipe Calderón, 48. Police officers shot and killed the gunman, Omar Santa-Perez.
Kandepi, the youngest victim, was a graduate student and consultant at Fifth Third Bank born in Tenali, India. Newcomer was a husband, father and grandfather who worked for the Providence, Rhode Island-based Gilbane Building Co. He had been working on a project on the third flood of the Fifth Third Center.
Two other people, including a woman who was shot 12 times, survived the shooting.
Our “Dirty dining” pieces are always Tri-State favorite.
Newport establishments had a particularly difficult year -- three spots on the levee were shut down in 2017.
- Axis Alley got a notice to suspend its permit to operate in May after an inspector determined that a malfunctioning grease trap was leaking dirty water into the food prep kitchen and dishwashing area. The business got a perfect score on its follow-up inspection the next day.
- Bar Louie was closed for two days in September because of violations that the business had been warned to correct during a meeting with a Kentucky Department of Public Health official.
- And Mitchell’s Fish Market was closed for a few days in early December after an inspector found there was no hot water in the restaurant, along with six other critical violations.
The Newport on the Levee establishments were among 15 businesses that the Northern Kentucky Health Department shut down temporarily in 2017.
Authorities in August arrested a Liberty Township man accused of murdering a 23-year-old woman.
Michael Strouse, 29, is charged in the death of Ellen Weik, who went missing from West Chester Township on August 1. Officials found Weik’s body in a field off Millikin Road.
Strouse lives on Bluffs Drive, not far from where Weik’s body was found by West Chester police officers. The chief said tips led authorities to the Millikin Road location. Weik died of asphyxiation, according to court documents.
Strouse stands charged with aggravated murder, murder, three counts of tampering with evidence, menacing by stalking, petty theft, abuse of a corpse and gross abuse of a corpse.
His trial is scheduled to begin April 1.
Diocese officials told Holy Cross High School’s valedictorian and student council president they couldn’t speak at graduation because their speeches “were political and inconsistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church.”
So valedictorian Christian Bales and president Katherine Frantz found a pair of megaphones and delivered their speeches outside.
Bales, 18, had hoped to celebrate American youth advocacy, mentioning both the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students who have campaigned for reformed gun laws and his own classmates who had attended the March for Life in January.
Bales' mother, Gillian Marksberry, said Bales and Frantz had believed their speeches were approved before an "out-of-the-blue" call from Principal Mike Holtz. Holtz related to her that the diocese characterized the speeches as "aggressive, angry, confrontational" and too personal for the graduation stage.
"School officials and representatives of the Diocese of Covington reserve the right to review and approve all student speeches to be presented in public at high school graduations," diocese spokesman Tim Fitzgerald said. "When the proposed speeches were received, they were found to contain elements that were political and inconsistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church."
You can read Bales’ speech in a Google Doc here.
This story breaks down key facts about the Fifth Third Center shooting, including details about the gunman, a timeline of response and how the community reacted.
The shooter, 29-year-old Omar Santa-Perez, was not a current or former employee of Fifth Third. He entered the lobby through a side door, armed with a Taurus 9 mm semi-automatic handgun and over 200 rounds of ammunition.
He fired his first shot at 9:06 a.m. He fired 34 more rounds at bystanders and police officers over the next four minutes and 28 seconds.
Here's a timeline of the shooting:
- 9:07 a.m. -- Officer calls in shooting to dispatch
- 9:08 a.m. -- Active shooter on the first floor
- 9:11 a.m. -- Suspect down inside building
- 9:13 a.m. -- Officer reports locations of victims
- 9:13 a.m. -- Officer reports finding survivors in closet
Four people, including the shooter, died. A Cincinnati police officer killed the gunman.
Officer Jennifer Chilton, Officer Antonio Etter, Officer Eric Kaminsky, and Police Specialist Gregory Toyeas responded "within seconds" of the shooting and engaged in a shootout with Santa-Perez.
Authorities fired a total of 11 rounds, Isaac said, but it’s not yet known which police officer struck the gunman.
The gunman’s motives for the shooting are still unknown.
Authorities released surveillance video from inside the Fifth Third Center the day after the shooting.
In the first few moments of the security camera video, unarmed security officers stationed inside Fifth Third Center are seen guiding people to safety -- seconds before being in Santa-Perez's line of vision.
One security officer helped a man stand up, and led the man to safety with his own back toward the direction of the shooter. Isaac called the security officers' actions "heroic.”
Something I wanna point out: This unarmed security guard shielded a man with his body and got him into hiding. MILLISECONDS later, the gunman walks by and shoots through the glass because he didn't see them. That security guard saved that man's life https://t.co/ubXobzCjHg @WCPO pic.twitter.com/X5LDGw4u7w
— Abby Anstead (@AbbyAnstead) September 7, 2018
Video from an officer's body camera shows officers huddled near the entrance of Fifth Third Center before firing their weapons at the gunman. The shooter fired at police officers as they fired at him from outside of the building. Video shows Santa-Perez fall face forward when he was struck by police gunfire.
City officials have admitted they could have done more to save the teenage boy who died when he became trapped in his minivan despite calling 911 for help.
Kyle Plush, 16, died on April 10 after he became trapped in the third row bench seat of his van in Seven Hills School’s parking lot.
Plush called 911 twice. In the first call, he gasped, cried repeatedly for help and struggled to communicate with the operator. He relayed that he was trapped inside his car in the parking lot of Seven Hills School.
"I probably don't have much time left, so tell my mom I love her if I die," he said.
He called again and told the call taker he was not joking and he was “trapped inside a gold Honda Odyssey van in the parking lot of Seven Hills.”
Around 9 p.m., according to police, a family member discovered him dead inside the van -- a death Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco would rule accidental "asphyxia caused by chest compression."
No one was charged after a monthslong investigation into the teen’s death in which police and 911 responders were closely scrutinized. A preliminary investigation revealed technical problems and human error may have played roles in first responders' failure to locate Plush. The 911 operator who took Plush's second call said she couldn’t hear him when he described the make, model and color of the minivan where he was trapped and suffocating.
Since Kyle’s death, his parents, Ron and Jill Plush, started the Kyle Plush Take the Call Foundation, which advocates for “common sense public policy.”
A boy’s basketball team was sidelined in January for wearing jerseys with racial slurs on them.
A team of boys from West Clermont High School was playing a team from Kings High in a recreational basketball league. The Cincinnati Premier Youth Basketball League called the game before it was over because of the Kings' boys' jerseys.
One player's said "Knee Grow." Another's: "Coon."
In a statement, Kings division coordinator Charrise Middleton said the team was immediately removed from the league once she learned about the uniforms.
The Cincinnati branch of the NAACP investigated the incident.
The most read story of 2018 was Cincinnati’s biggest news story of the year.
The link above is the first story we published that day, less than 20 minutes after the gunman opened fire. At first, I published one line, alerting people to the shooting and warning them to avoid the area. We built off this story as more information came in.
Early that day, a Fifth Third Bank employee told us he 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.
The gunman killed three people: Prudhvi Raj Kandepi, 25; Richard Newcomer, 64; and Luis Felipe Calderón, 48.
The last fatal shooting reported in the Central Business District involved a single victim and occurred on July 7, 2014, according to city data.