Thursday, February 01, 2001

Officer injured; suspect killed

Drug investigation erupts in gunfire

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A drug investigation in Corryville erupted into gunfire Wednesday night, leaving a Cincinnati police officer with a gunshot wound and a suspect dead.

[photo] Cincinnati police officers stage at Donahue and Highland streets, near the shooting site.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
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        The incident occurred in the 200 block of Donahue Street about 10 p.m. Investigators were expected to be there all night.

        The officer was taken to nearby University Hospital in a cruiser. At the hospital, police said his injury was slight. By 11:45 p.m., Officer Craig Gregoire was released.

        The suspect's name was not released by officers. Police Chief Tom Streicher confirmed around midnight he was dead.

        Dr. Arthur Pancioli, an emergency room physician, said Officer Gregoire suffered a minor injury to his right hand caused by an apparent gunshot. He was treated and released.

        “We are fortunate the police officer is doing well,” the doctor said. “It was approximately a 2-centimeter wound across the top of his hand. It was a grazing injury.”

        The doctor was not sure if the injury was caused by a bullet or shrapnel.

        Keith Fangman, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said he went to the emergency room and met with the officer and his parents.

        “I think that we all in the Cincinnati Police Division are saying a little silent prayer that he wasn't killed.”

        Lt. Ray Ruberg, police spokesman, said there had been a drug investigation going on at the Donahue Street address. Officers encountered a man who was armed. The suspect was shot, as was the officer, he said.

        The suspect in the drug investigation was killed in the Donahue Street building, Chief Streicher said.

[photo] Cincinnati Police stand in front of what is believed to be the site of the shooting.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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        Officers went to the house, Chief Streicher said, as part of an Operation Street Corner investigation that included uniformed officers from District 4.

        Officer Gregoire was struck in the first volley of shots fired, and was briefly trapped in a bathroom, Lt. Ruberg said. Then, there was a second volley of gunfire.

        Chief Streicher said he did not know if the suspect fired a gun, but said a gun was found at the scene and would be tested.

        “It sounds like to me it was a pretty severe confrontation,” Chief Streicher said.

        A 911 tape released by police begins at 9:50, with dispatchers talking to a team of officers in an apartment on Donahue. As the officers were securing the area, there was a call that an officer needed assistance.

        Dispatchers called out for “More cars needed at 241 Donahue.”

        At 9:55 p.m., Officer Gregoire is suddenly heard on the tape saying in a calm voice, “I'm bleeding. I don't know if I've been hit. Send a paramedic.

        “I'm in the house. I'm in a bad spot right now. I'm in the house. I've got the gunman in the kitchen, and I don't know if he's hit or not and I don't know if I'm hit yet.”

        The officer warns his fellow police: “Get back from the window. He has a weapon and he's shooting at police.”

[photo] Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher briefs media after the shooting
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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        Dispatchers told officers arriving to assist to maintain a safe perimeter, not to go near the rear of the building because the suspect was shooting. Police then called for a supervisor.

        Police blocked off traffic to the streets surrounding the Donahue Street address, and there were at least 50 officers on the scene.

        Paul Baechle was coming out of the nearby Highland Coffee House when he said he “heard gunshots and then we hurried up and left. Right when we left, we heard five shots.”

        Christy Starcher, who works at the nearby Talbert House, said that, around 9:50 p.m., she heard two police officers pull up. Shortly after that, she heard three shots. Then, after more police arrived, she heard several more shots fired.

        In recent years, Cincinnati police officers have grown far too used to hearing the report “officer down” crackling over their police radios.

        Last September, Cincinnati Police Officer Kevin Crayon died in the line of duty when he was dragged to death by a car on Colerain Avenue in Mount Airy in the early morning. The car was driven by a 12-year-old, Courtney Mathis, who was killed by a bullet fired by the officer.

        In December 1997, in Mount Auburn not far from the scene of Wednesday night's shooting, Officers Daniel Pope and Ronald Jeter were shot and killed by a suspect.


        Tim Bonfield, Kristina Goetz, Dan Horn, Marie McCain, Jane Prendergast and Howard Wilkinson contributed to this report.

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