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'Everyone Rallied Together': Bank Employees Remember Shooting

fifth third vigil
Jennifer Merritt
The Friday after the shooting, people gathered at Fountain Square outside of Fifth Third Center to remember the victims.

Sept. 6 is never far from the minds of Fifth Third employees, according to company spokesman Gary Rhodes. That's the day a gunman walked into the lobby of the Fifth Third Bank tower at Fountain Square and started shooting. One year later, Rhodes says bank employees and Cincinnatians are remembering those who were killed or wounded, and the bravery of those who survived.

Two people were wounded and four killed, including the shooter. Security guards and employees rushed others to safety. Those outside the bank ran for cover. Cincinnati Police officers were on the scene within minutes and stopped the rampage in a hail of gunfire.

"In times of crisis, the true human spirit really does shine through," Rhodes says. He points to the makeshift memorial that sprung up on Fountain Square, and the thousands of people who attended a service on the square the day after.

fountain square vigitl
Credit John Minchillo / AP
Mourners placed flowers at the fountain edge before a vigil in Fountain Square a day after a shooting there that claimed the lives of three civilians on Sept. 6, 2018.

The Fifth Third Foundation made a $1 million gift to the Cincinnati Strong Victims Fund to help those affected, physically or emotionally. Rhodes says another $200,000 came in from individual donations. The money was distributed to 33 individuals in January.

Rhodes says the company provided grief counseling to employees immediately after the attack. He says counselors will be available again on Friday. "We recognize it will bring up painful memories for many. Certainly, anyone who was here that day a year ago, they will never forget it. We're doing everything we can to help those work through those memories and work through that grief, even today."

He adds, "Everyone deals with grief in a different way. What's important is to provide the resources and the compassion for people to help work through that grief and move on. That's something that Fifth Third has tried to do throughout in the days and weeks after that event."

As horrible as the day was, Rhodes says it's not what ultimately is important. "What defines who we are is how the city, the community, Fifth Third, everyone rallied together to recognize what had happened and to begin the process of moving forward and healing." 

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.