'The Bartenders Down There Are Traumatized.' City Leaders, Business Owners Respond to Main Street Shooting that Injured Nine People

Cincinnati Police want your help finding the suspects involved in the Aug. 7 shooting.

click to enlarge Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval briefs reporters on Aug. 7, 2022, following an Over-the-Rhine shooting in which nine people were injured. - Madeline Fening
Madeline Fening
Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval briefs reporters on Aug. 7, 2022, following an Over-the-Rhine shooting in which nine people were injured.

Nine people were injured in a shooting on Over-the-Rhine's Main Street in the early hours of Aug. 7, according to the Cincinnati Police Department's Assistant Chief Michael John.

During a press conference at noon Aug. 7, John said officers were called to disperse a large disorderly crowd outside Mr. Pitiful's bar near the corner of Main and Woodward streets at 1:39 a.m. John said that while police broke up the crowd, two groups erupted into a physical fight, with two people pulling out guns and exchanging fire near and at bystanders.

Suspects are still at large

John said officers saw one of the suspects shooting at people in the crowd just south of the intersection. That’s when Civil Disturbance Response Team officer Joe Shook shot once at the suspect. CPD does not know if the round made contact with that person, who then fled east toward Sycamore Street. Both suspects who fired into the crowd are still at large.

“I thank God there were no fatalities last night,” Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval said during the press conference.

According to CPD, eight men and one woman were shot during the exchange of gunfire. They range from 23 to 47 years old.

“There is no question that the actions of officer Joe Shook saved lives, no question,” John said.

John said 15 total rounds were fired during the shooting, including the shot fired by Shook.

“Bang balls" — instruments used by police to create a loud sound meant to disperse crowds — were used when crowds were getting in the way of providing aid to the wounded, John said. Responding officers then applied tourniquets to victims at the scene.

All nine people who were shot have been discharged from University of Cincinnati Medical Center, John said.

In addition to the shooting on Main Street, John said there was a shooting in the Central Business District of downtown that left two people injured. Police do not believe the incidents are connected.

City leaders ask for help

John said police presence already was elevated on Main Street because of the heavy crowds that have been gathering in the area in recent weeks. The street is home to multiple busy bars, restaurants and nightclubs that  usually are full on the weekends.

“We want everybody to come downtown and have a good time, but personal accountability has to trump these ridiculous, outlandish beefs that are going on in our city,” said Cincinnati City Council member Scotty Johnson.

John said the Cincinnati Police Department wants to be involved in conflict resolution before guns are drawn.

“You’ve heard about conflict resolution. That’s our job – call us,” he said. “If you’re involved in a conflict and you feel threatened, then call us to resolve it for you.”

Bar staff are traumatized

Lindsey Swadner, owner of The Hub OTR bar at 1209 Main St., attended the press conference in search of mental health support for her bar staff, who she said have been deeply distressed by this and other Main Street shootings in the past. In recent years, Cincinnati has grappled with gun violence throughout the metro, particularly in the summer months.

“The bartenders down there are traumatized, I’m traumatized, I can’t sleep. My bartenders had to run home, we were all awake until 5 a.m.,” Swadner told CityBeat.

Swadner said she had a gun pulled on her in July while outside The Hub. 

“We really need mental health help for the bartenders,” Swadner said.

“And we’ve got it,” said Vice Mayor Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney to Swadner after the press conference. “We’ve got all these Cincinnati Health Department people who are really, really good.”

As of press time, Swadner isn’t sure if she will open The Hub on Sunday, saying her staff is drained from the traumatic experience.

“I’ve witnessed nonstop shootings,” Swadner said.

Main Street reopened Sunday morning after police shut down the block for multiple hours to investigate.

The Cincinnati Police Department is asking the public to contact the Criminal Investigations Section at 513-352-3542 with any information related to the shooting.

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