Bank employees back in fatal shooting aftermath

Mourners place flowers at the fountain edge before a vigil in Fountain Square where a shooting took place the previous day that claimed the lives of three civilians, Friday, Sept. 7, 2018, in Cincinnati. Suspect Omar Enrique Santa Perez entered the Fifth Third Center and began firing before being neutralized by police officers. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

CINCINNATI –  With yellow crime tape still sealing off the lobby entrance, employees returned to work Monday at a downtown bank building in which four people, including the gunman, were killed last week.

Some workers at the Fifth Third Bancorp’s headquarters building took breaks to donate blood to the Hoxworth Blood Center of University of Cincinnati. The center regularly holds blood drives at the Fountain Square area that includes the building, but brought a second bus and extra staffers to respond to unusually strong response.

"It’s such a cathartic thing for people to do," said Jim Tinker, a recruitment director for Hoxworth. He said supervisors in several nearby businesses were giving employees time off to give blood.

Appointments for early in the day were quickly filling up. Some Fifth Third employees were signing up to donate, but they declined to comment.

Stacie Haas, a spokeswoman for the Cincinnati-based regional bank, said counselors were available for employees. She said Fifth Third has some 1,900 employees and contractors in the 30-story building, which hosts other businesses including food shops.

A Fifth Third finance manager and two contractors were killed Sept. 6 . A bank vice president and a contractor remained hospitalized at UC Medical Center in fair condition with gunshot wounds.

Omar Enrique Santa Perez, 29, was shooting randomly in the lobby until quick-responding police shot him. Police said he had some 250 rounds of ammunition for his legally purchased 9 mm handgun.

Police said he never worked at the building and searches of his apartment and vehicle haven’t unveiled a motive.

"Nothing is really standing out," Cincinnati Police Lt. Steve Saunders said Monday. He said investigators "have a lot of things" remaining to study.

"Cincy Strong" messages and bouquets of flowers were placed along the square’s namesake fountain. The square often hosts a variety of community gatherings including concerts and food trucks.

Melissa and Ernie Bornstein, Los Angeles Dodgers fans from South Lake Tahoe, California, were in town to see baseball’s Dodgers play the Cincinnati Reds. They were drawn to the fountain.

"We thought this has to be where what we heard about happened," she said. "It’s tragic."


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