Thursday, July 12, 2001

Dozens of shots were fired while officer chased suspect

By Jane Prendergast and Allen Howard
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The gun battle that erupted Tuesday between a Cincinnati police officer and a suspect lasted long enough for both to reload their weapons.

        Detectives investigating the case have determined that Officer Thomas Haas fired 19 times. The man he was chasing through streets and alleys, Deangelo Williams, fired at least 17 times. They were carrying the same kind of gun — Smith & Wesson 9mm semiautomatics — and coincidentally both reloaded in the same spot on Henry Street.

        Veteran officers throughout the police division continued to say Wednesday how rare such a gunfight is in Cincinnati. Some go their entire careers without needing the 30 extra bullets they carry on their belts.

        Chief Tom Streicher applauded Officer Haas, a nine-year veteran and training officer. Officer Haas was training new Officer Arnold Walker at the time of the shooting. Officer Walker has been out of the police academy less than a month.

        “I think the thing that's incredibly brave about Thomas Haas is that he didn't quit,” the chief said. “He ran into a hail of gunfire how many times, and he stayed with it. A lot of people wouldn't do that.”

        Officer Walker stayed with a witness, as Officer Haas told him to, and did not run after the shooter.

        Mr. Williams, 24, of Clifton, remained in jail Wednesday under $2.4 million bond. He is charged with two counts of attempted murder, two counts of aggravated robbery, theft, felonious assault and probation violation.

        His attorney, Kory Jackson, pleaded not guilty for him and argued that bond is supposed to ensure defendants show up in court, not keep them behind bars.

        A videotape from the officers' cruiser shows Officer Haas — after witnesses scream that a man ran by with a gun — turn onto Elm Street from Findlay Street and encounter Mr. Williams. The suspect can be seen hunching over and reaching across his body.

        “In this case, this gentleman was going for a gun,” said Sgt. John Newsom.

        Officer Rob Shircliff came to help, seeing Mr. Williams as he ran along Dunlap Street. Mr. Williams fired at him before running into the back yard of a house on Findlay Street and trying to hide there. Officer Shircliff did not have a clear shot, Lt. Roger Wolf said, and therefore did not fire.

        Two parked vehicles and Officer Haas' cruiser were hit by bullets.


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