Hundreds Gather At Fountain Square To Honor Shooting Victims

Sep 7, 2018

Residents, council members, and community and religious leaders assembled at Fountain Square Friday afternoon for a vigil honoring the victims and honoring the heroes of Thursday's fatal shooting at Fifth Third Center. 

"So here we are, at Fountain Square, and the waters keep flowing," Mayor John Cranley told the thousands gathered at the Square. "They were flowing before we were born, and they're gonna flow after we're gone. This city is strong. This city will continue."

The mayor also told the crowd, "if we can keep the memories of Richard Newcomer, Pruthvi Raj Kandepi and Luis Calderon eternal, then these waters will flow eternally with pride and Cincinnati will be strong eternally." 

Police say Pruthvi Raj Kandepi, 25; Luis Felipe Calderon, 48; and Richard Newcomer, 64; died after 29-year-old Omar Enrique Perez opened fire with a 9mm handgun in the lobby of the bank building located at 38 Fountain Square. Another two victims were wounded in the attack. Perez is deceased after an encounter with four Cincinnati Police Officers at the scene. 

Cranely choked up talking about the officers. "We are so sorry at the loss of life, but I promise you, dozens were saved because of the heroism of those officers."

People came together for the moment of silence -- organized by United Way of Greater Cincinnati, leadership at Fifth Third Bank and city officials -- for different reasons. One told WVXU she came because her father was in the building when it happened, but was safe. Another came because she loves the small Midwestern city she adopted as her hometown seven years ago. Samantha Winebrenner came because she works in the tower with one of the victims: Luis Felipe Calderon. 

"He was very lighthearted," she told WVXU after the ceremony. "He was an awesome guy. He had teenage children. It's very sad."

Earlier in the day, mourners placed flowers around The Genius of Water statue at the Square. Members of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra played a song as some attendees became visably upset, wiping away tears and comforting one another.

To close the gathering, United Way's President and CEO Michael Johnson asked those in crowd first to turn and say hello to the person standing next to them; then, to give them a hug. Many happily obliged. 

Credit Jennifer Merritt / WVXU