A Louisville woman was shot 12 times but survived after a gunman opened fire Thursday in the lobby of the Fifth Third Center in downtown Cincinnati.
Whitney Austin, 37, is in stable condition, her brother-in-law Lonnie Gardner told the Courier Journal on Thursday evening. Austin was conscious following the shooting and called her husband, Waller, from the ambulance, Gardner said.
She’s in a “lot of shock, still,” but was coherent and responding, Gardner said. She was also “thankful she’s in the condition she’s in, and not worse,” Gardner said outside his Louisville home after returning from visiting Austin in Cincinnati.
Three victims, in addition to the gunman, died Thursday. Two people were wounded, including Austin. The other survivor, who has not been identified, is reportedly in critical condition.
Cincinnati police have not said what they think was a motive for the shooting but said gunman Omar Santa Perez acted alone.
“This is a horrific incident,” Cincinnati police Chief Eliot Isaac said. “We are still processing the evidence and looking for any opportunity to get any greater insight into the motive.”
The evidence includes footage from police body cameras and security cameras around Fountain Square and Fifth Third Center.
Isaac said Perez died after the first officers on the scene shot him multiple times.
“Their brave and heroic actions stopped the shooter before his rampage continued to do more harm,” Isaac said.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said the suspect used a 9mm handgun, and City Councilman Wendell Young said he was told the man carried 500 rounds of ammunition.
“He could’ve killed over 100 people,” Deters said.
Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley praised the quick response from police and said he regretted Cincinnati has joined the growing list of American cities that have experienced mass shootings in the past year.
“There’s something deeply sick at work here and we as a country need to work on it,” Cranley said.
Killed were Pruthvi Raj Kandepi, 25, Richard Newcomer, 64, and Luis Felipe Calderón, 48, according to the Hamilton County Coroner’s office. Newcomer, 64, had worked at Gilbane Building Co. for three years and was a superintendent of a project underway at Fifth Third Center. Background on the other two was not available.
“It’s such a tragedy. There are no words to describe how we’re feeling,” said Wes Cotter, a spokesman for the company. “Our thoughts and prayers are going out to his family.”
Austin works for Fifth Third Bank, Gardner confirmed. A LinkedIn page for her lists her current position as vice president, senior product development manager and “Go to Market Consultant.”
Several Fifth Third spokespeople contacted by Courier Journal reporters on Thursday did not immediately respond.
Earlier today, an active shooter entered our headquarters building in downtown Cincinnati. The situation is contained…
Austin frequently travels to Cincinnati for work, Gardner said. The Cincinnati building where the shooting happened is Fifth Third Bank’s corporate headquarters and home to several other offices.
“This was just a normal day. She was just walking into work, actually, on her phone, on a conference call,” Gardner said. “She was just walking through the turnstiles when she was wounded.”
Her most severe injury is to her shoulder, Gardner said, adding that she also has two breaks in one arm.
“It’s a moment of celebration, but there were fatalities, too,” Gardner said. “So, it’s sad, but I’m happy and fortunate that she survived this attack.”
Austin’s childhood neighbor, Bonita “Bunny” Franklin, echoed that sentiment, saying that she was down on her knees praying for her after Austin’s mother, Donna Stevenson, informed Franklin that her daughter had been shot “multiple times.”
Stevenson texted Franklin later to tell her that Austin was alive, she said, and when Franklin spread the news, her phone was ringing “off the hook” with excitement and well wishes.
“We are just so thankful that she has survived,” Franklin said. “It’s going to be a long recovery, and I’m thinking emotionally maybe even more so than physically. … We really want the community and the neighbors praying.”