Wednesday, February 4, 1998
Colleagues praise quick action
Police 'hero' stable after gun battle

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Kathleen S. Conway

Daniel T. Williams

Cincinnati Police Officer Kathleen ''Katie'' Conway and her assailant each had a gun in their hand when officers arrived at her smashed cruiser Monday night.

A day after she survived an ambush - by returning fire with the 9mm handgun she pulled from her holster on a hip just fractured by a gunshot - colleagues applauded the 23-year-old woman as a hero who was calm enough to win a deadly fight.

Sequence of events
Daniel T. Williams shot her four times just below her bulletproof vest. He opened her unlocked door and shoved her over, but she was able to radio for help, reach her gun and save herself, police said Tuesday.

''She's an incredibly brave woman,'' said Lt. Col. Thomas Streicher, an assistant chief who commands the police division's patrol bureau. ''I would have to categorize her as America's most recent hero. Officer Conway should've won the hearts of every person in the Greater Cincinnati area.''

She was in serious but stable condition Tuesday at University Hospital after hours of surgery.

Police identified her assailant through fingerprints early Tuesday. Mr. Williams, 41, of downtown, died from a gunshot wound to the head.

Gunman's sister called police earlier that day
Click here for the story, including streaming RealAudio of Rozena Williams calling police to warn them about her brother, hours before he shot Officer Conway.
Family members described him as a confused and irrational loner who lived at Dennison Rooming House on Main Street. He had been in and out of Hamilton County courts in recent years on such charges as domestic violence and felonious assault. His sister, Rozena Williams, had called police Monday to say he was armed and threatening family members.

He had recently bought a .357 Magnum and said he would use it on his mother, his sister told police.

Little did police know he was next to police headquarters north of downtown Monday night with his boom box and gun.

He apparently flagged down Officer Conway across the street from Music Hall. She was nearly six hours into her 2-11 p.m. shift patrolling Over-the-Rhine alone in her cruiser and was returning to police District 1 on Ezzard Charles Drive.

Mr. Williams was standing in the median. Police are trying to reconstruct what happened, including whether he knocked on her window and hit her with his radio before firing and pushing her to the passenger seat.

Real Audio and transcript of radio calls
Sandra Franklin, a city parking lot attendant, heard the pops of the Magnum from her booth nearby. She ducked, then peeked out the booth window and watched a man open the officer's cruiser door and get in. She thought something seemed wrong, so she called police.

She watched Mr. Williams speed off, northbound on Central Parkway. He clipped an oncoming police cruiser just before smashing into the Samuel Adams Brewery building in the 1600 block of Central Parkway.

Mrs. Franklin, 42, of North Fairmount, works a block from the police memorial, where a flag still flies at half-staff for area fallen officers. She said the shooting has left her feeling nervous.

''These police are out here to protect us,'' she said. ''It's horrible to think that they're there to protect us and they're not safe. That's kind of upsetting to me.''

Hurt but alert

Paramedic/Firefighter Michael Nie was sitting in his quarters at 430 Central Ave.when he and his partner got the call that there was a possible shooting of an officer.

''She was pretty much covered in blood - on her face, her hands, her shirt, but mostly on her pants,'' he said. ''We could see we were going to need to get going.''

The rescue crew pulled her out onto a backboard and left the scene about four minutes after arriving. They gave her fluids, cut away her clothing and evaluated her wounds. She remained alert and oriented.

More coverage
  • A determined, caring officer
  • Gunman 'never talked bad about police'
  • Police attacks less frequent, more deadly
  • ''She had the wherewithal to tell us that her right hip was killing her and she couldn't feel anything on her left side,'' Firefighter Nie said. ''At one point in time, she looked up and said, 'I'm pretty bad, aren't I?' And we told her, 'We've seen worse - You're going to be just fine. We've got to get you up to the hospital.'

    ''Downtown's a rough area to be in,'' he said. ''The police look out for us if we get in any sort of bad situation, and we try to look out for them. It tends to promote a sense of family.''

    Doctors said her wounds were consistent with a defensive position, of someone trying to get away. Doctors are cautiously optimistic about a full recovery, and she likely will be in the hospital up to a week and off her leg six to eight weeks.

    One bullet missed a major artery by about a quarter-inch, which could have been life-threatening.

    ''When we heard an officer had multiple gunshot wounds at close range, we obviously were very concerned,'' said Dr. Jay Johannigman, who was on duty two months ago the night Cincinnati Police Spc. Ronald Jeter and Officer Daniel Pope were brought in with fatal gunshot wounds. ''We're just grateful we had a better outcome (this time).''

    Emotional drain

    In roll calls Tuesday at each of Cincinnati's five police districts, officers listened to Officer Conway's distress call and talked about the emotional stress of their jobs.

    Fraternal Order of Police President Keith Fangman said recent shootings are taking a toll on officers - who are upset, fearful and angry. ''We are not going to sit back and allow ourselves to be the human punching bags of the city,'' he said.

    Criminals who use force against officers should expect the consequences of justified use of force, he said.

    At the police academy at Longworth Hall, recruits who began their orientation Dec. 6 - the same day officers Jeter and Pope died - were jolted by the officer's call for help.

    Her call started with panicky screams, but within a minute, she was able to clearly say where she was and that she had been shot. Authorities are crediting the police dispatch supervisor - Elena Zucker - with ''doing an outstanding job'' and getting officers and rescue crews on the scene immediately, police spokesman Lt. Tim Schoch said.

    Colleagues also are calling Officer Conway a hero.

    ''From Day One, you're told that losing is not an option,'' said Sgt. Mark Briede, a trainer at the academy. ''You have to win these encounters. A lot of it is just internal.''

    Teri Hoehn, 46, of Western Hills - the first female uniformed officer on Cincinnati's streets 23 years ago - said she felt so connected with Officer Conway that she wrote her a note Tuesday.

    ''I consider myself very adept to emergency situations,'' said Mrs. Hoehn - known on the streets in the 1970s as Officer Mary Therese Mechley. ''This woman was phenomenal.''

    Mrs. Hoehn quit the force in 1979. On her second-to-last night, Officers Dennis Bennington and Robert Seiffert were shot to death. Two months ago, she struggled with the deaths of two other Cincinnati officers. On Monday night, she cried again.

    ''Somehow this hit even more close to home because it was a woman,'' she said. ''I'll tell you what, I thought I was good - but she gives a new meaning to the words 'courage under fire.' ''

    Julie Irwin contributed to this report.

    Today's report

    Sequence of events
    A determined, caring officer
    Gunman 'never talked bad about police'
    Police attacks less frequent, more deadly

    Tuesday's report

    Officer shot; suspect dead
    Audio and transcipt of police radio calls