Police trying to determine why gunman opened fire downtown
By ANGIE WANG and DAN SEWELL
Friday, September 7
CINCINNATI (AP) — Police say they’re trying to learn why a gunman carrying a large amount of ammunition began shooting in a downtown Cincinnati high-rise building, killing three people and wounding two others before four officers all opened fire on him.
Police Chief Eliot Isaac says they will study footage from the officers’ body cameras and security from the 30-story building that headquarters Fifth Third Bancorp. Police say the suspect had never worked at Fifth Third and don’t have any information linking him to other businesses in the building.
Authorities believe that 29-year-old Omar Enrique Santa Perez has lived in the Cincinnati area since 2015. Police swarmed his apartment in North Bend, Ohio, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) away.
Isaac says the shooter used a 9 mm handgun with some 200 rounds of ammunition. Officers arrived in seconds to drop him in a hail of gunfire.
Authorities hope to have more information to release Friday.
Records show the shooter formerly lived in South Florida and had been charged with some non-violent crimes years ago.
Police said he went into a sandwich shop and possibly other businesses before entering the lobby and opening fire around 9:10 a.m.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said the rapid police response probably prevented many more casualties. He said one investigator said it could have been “a bloodbath beyond imagination.”
Leonard Cain told The Enquirer he was going into the bank when someone alerted him about the shooting. He said a woman wearing headphones didn’t hear the warnings and walked into the bank and got shot.
The Hamilton County Coroner’s office identified the victims as Pruthvi Kandepi, 25; Luis Calderon, 48; and Richard Newcomer, 64.
One of the victims died at the scene. Two more died at University of Cincinnati Medical Center. The wounded were listed there in critical condition and fair condition.
Fountain Square is often the site of concerts, dancing, food trucks and other events around lunchtime or in the evenings.
“It could have been any one of us,” Mayor John Cranley said. He praised police and other emergency personnel, saying, “It could have been much, much worse.”
Associated Press writers John Seewer in Toledo, Alexandra Villarreal in New York and AP Photographer John Minchillo in Cincinnati contributed.
Follow Dan Sewell at http://www.twitter.com/dansewell
9/14: Women’s March OH to Launch Women and Youth Empower Ohio
Initiative to build on wave of women and youth standing for progressive causes and winning elections.
Columbus, OH— In the midst of a midterm election season that has already seen unprecedented wins for women and people of color, Women’s March Ohio will build upon their organizing work by kicking off the Women and Youth Empower Ohio (WYEO) initiative on September 14th.
The initiative will kick off with an event featuring a voter registration drive, a panel discussion with grassroots and nationally-recognized leaders, and a keynote address by City Councilwoman Tamaya Dennard who went viral with her hashtag #bringafoldingchair in her successful campaign for Cincinnati City Council.
The event will give a platform for people to work collectively to create positive change in Ohio communities.
“We’re seeing new energy and interest from everyday Ohioans eager to drive much needed change in our communities,” said WM Ohio founder Rhiannon Childs. “At a time when women, people of color and young folks are making history in every corner of the nation, now is the time to harness that potential to increase participation in the process and ensure all Ohioans make their voice heard in 2018 and beyond.”
What: Community gathering of everyday people turned community leaders to politically empower women, people of color, and other marginalized folks.
Rhiannon Childs, Executive Director, Women’s March Ohio
Tamaya Dennard, Cincinnati Council Member (Keynote Speaker)
Aramis Malachi-Ture Sundiata, Founder of People’s Justice Project
Ruby White, Founder of Jazzy Greens
Helen Stewart, Founder of BQIC
Claressa Page, Abortion Clinic Escort
Michelle Love-Davis, Abortion Clinic Escort
Amber Evans, Director of Juvenile Justice Coalition
Where: Art Outside the Lines, 485 E. Livingston Ave. Columbus, Ohio 43215
When: Friday, September 14, 2018, 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m
Steve Dettelbach Takes ‘Got Your Back’ Tour to Akron
Dettelbach for Ohio Press
Wednesday, September 5, 2018
Latest Stop on Statewide Tour with Law Enforcement, Public Safety Advocates, and Elected Officials
AKRON — TODAY, Democratic nominee for Attorney General Steve Dettelbach hosted the third stop on his Dettelbach’s ‘Got Your Back’ tour — a roundtable discussion with law enforcement officers and executives, elected officials, including Mayor Dan Horrigan of Akron and Mayor Don Walters of Cuyahoga Falls, and public safety advocates, including a representative from the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the largest police organization in Ohio that has endorsed Dettelbach in his campaign for Attorney General.
Dettelbach reflected on the discussion:
“My main takeaway from the officials and officers on the front lines protecting Ohioans is that they feel too often ignored and abandoned by the insider Statehouse culture in Columbus. From tackling the opioid crisis to combating human trafficking to protecting victims of violent crime, Ohio has some serious challenges ahead. Everyone I heard from today knows these fights well. They have dedicated their lives and often risk their own safety to protect every Ohioan. We owe them more.
“As US Attorney, I worked with law enforcement to prosecute drug traffickers, developed an opioid-task force that became a national model and went after a drug company who improperly pushed pills into our communities. I know first-hand that an effective fight against the opioid crisis requires a multi-faceted approach including enforcement, prevention, and treatment. That means coming together to put Ohioans first. It also means ensuring that law enforcement is adequately supported by the Attorney General’s office and has the tools they need to do their jobs.
“I will work every day from now to November for the chance to stand shoulder to shoulder with them to take on these tough fights. And as Attorney General, I will support them. I am honored to have had the opportunity to sit down and hear from the people standing on the front lines in Akron today. As Attorney General, I will have their backs.”
Roundtable participants included:
Mayor Dan Horrigan, Mayor of Akron
Mayor Don Walters, Mayor of Cuyahoga Falls
Chief Jack Davis, Cuyahoga Falls Police Department
Chief Paul Moledor, Cuyahoga Falls Fire Department
Captain Richard Armsey, Summit County Sheriff’s Office
Charles Brown, Deputy Mayor of Public Safety of Akron
Greta Johnson, Assistant Chief of Staff to County Executive Ilene Shapiro
Jerry Craig, Executive Director of County of Summit Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental (ADM) Health Services Board
Doug Sandor, FOP Executive Board Member
Travis Bornstein, President of Teamsters Local 24
Russ Balthis, Law Director of Cuyahoga Falls
Dave Yost Won’t Fight to Protect Healthcare for Ohioans with Pre-Existing Conditions
Dettelbach for Ohio Press
Thursday, September 6, 2018
In case you missed it…Yesterday, Steve Dettelbach called out his opponent Auditor of State Dave Yost, as well as current Attorney General Mike DeWine, for failing to fight for healthcare protections for millions of Ohioans. The Columbus Dispatch lays out the two choices voters are facing this November when it comes to healthcare: a career prosecutor who will advocate for the nearly two million Ohioans with pre-existing conditions or a typical politician who will put drug companies and partisan politics over Ohioans by sitting idly by as their healthcare coverage and protections are under attack.
Yost, who has called for repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), claims he “philosophically” opposes the ACA, and confirms that he, like DeWine, will not fight to protect the healthcare of those with pre-existing conditions by joining other states in fighting a partisan lawsuit currently being heard in Texas.
Asked what happens if two million Ohioans lose their care as a result of the case, a Yost spokesman said Congress would need to act. Two million Ohioans deserve more than thoughts and prayers from their next Attorney General that Congress will act. They need an advocate who will fight for the rights they have in law today.
From ECOT to Donald Trump to healthcare, Auditor of State Dave Yost’s record of putting politics and his donors first and Ohioans second keeps on growing. Ohio needs an independent Attorney General who will protect Ohioans no matter what, especially from partisan attempts to strip their right to healthcare coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Key excerpts follow:
After several legal challenges and scores of unsuccessful votes in Congress, arguments began in Texas Wednesday in a suit brought by 20 Republican attorneys general seeking to gut the ACA for good. That would include protections for people with preexisting health conditions that in the past had kept them from getting insurance.
“Where is Dave Yost and where is Mike DeWine when the health care of Ohioans is under attack?” Dettelbach asked.
“For years people like Mike DeWine have fought to overturn the Affordable Care Act,” Dettelbach said of the Ohio attorney general, who is now running for governor.
Asked if he would fight in Court to protect legal protections for those with pre-existing conditions that are threatened by a partisan lawsuit in Texas, a Yost spokesman said he would not join other states in fighting for the protections.
Asked what happens if people lose their protections, Yost said, “I hope that congress would act.”
Steve Dettelbach Reports $609,721 Raised this Period in Campaign for Ohio Attorney General
Dettelbach for Ohio Press
Thursday, September 6, 2018
Over $4 Million in Cash-On-Hand
CLEVELAND — Dettelbach for Ohio Campaign Manager Ian Moskowitz released the following statement today after the campaign filed a report showing it raised $609,721 in the most recent monthly filing period. Today’s filing ups the campaign’s total to $4.85 million raised for the cycle — and over $4 million in cash-on-hand, putting Dettelbach even further ahead of Yost.
Campaign Manager Ian Moskowitz issued the following statement:
“It’s clear that Dettelbach for Ohio’s momentum is growing as Ohioans in every corner of this state are increasingly inspired to make sure Steve Dettelbach is the next Attorney General of Ohio. They are fed up with our broken political system in Columbus where typical politicians like Dave Yost put special interests over everyday Ohioans. Ohioans know that the only way to fix our broken system is to elect an AG who will hold everyone to one set of rules, whether that means going after corrupt politicians — Democrats and Republicans — standing up against attacks on Ohioans’ healthcare, or taking on human traffickers.
“For over two decades as a federal prosecutor, Steve fought political corruption on both sides of the aisle. As AG, he will hold Republicans and Democrats accountable and stop politicians from giving special treatment to their donors and other powerful interests.
“Steve’s message is clearly resonating with voters far and wide across the state, and today’s filing reflects that. We are enormously grateful for the support this campaign has received thus far and there’s no slowing down now. The energy behind Steve is growing every day, and we will continue to build the campaign we need to make sure each and every Ohioan knows why Steve Dettelbach is the clear choice to be the next Attorney General of Ohio.”
BROWN HELPS PASS BIPARTISAN BILL TO CRACK DOWN ON GAG CLAUSES THAT FORCE CUSTOMERS TO PAY MORE AT THE PHARMACY COUNTER
Thursday, Sept 6, 2018
Legislation Now Heads to the House of Representatives for Consideration
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Earlier this week, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined a bipartisan group of Senators in helping to pass the Know the Lowest Price Act. This bill, passed unanimously, cracks down on outrageous gag clauses that prohibit pharmacists from telling customers that they could pay less for their prescription if they pay out of pocket. This practice is particularly egregious when used to prevent pharmacists from telling seniors – who are often on a fixed income – about their options.
Brown joined Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), John Barrasso (R-WY), Rand Paul (R-KY), Rob Portman (R-OH), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Dean Heller (R-NV), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Deb Fischer (R-NE), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) as a co-sponsor of the legislation.
“Too many Ohioans still struggle to afford the medicine they need, and often, the culprit is price gouging by big pharmaceutical corporations. By ensuring pharmacists can provide their customers with all the information – even the information Big Pharma doesn’t want them to know – we can save Ohioans money, improve health care, and increase transparency in the pharmaceutical industry.”
Many customers have no idea that they could pay less for their prescription if they paid out of pocket rather than using their insurance at the pharmacy counter. That’s because many pharmacists are prohibited from telling their customers that a prescription to treat diabetes or high blood pressure may cost only $8 out of pocket instead of $20 through insurance coverage. One 2018 report found that customers overpaid for prescription drugs at the pharmacy counter 23% of the time. And many pharmacists are frustrated that they can’t help their customers save money.
The Know the Lowest Price Act cracks down on this practice by prohibiting Medicare Part D Plans from restricting a pharmacy’s ability to provide drug price information when there is a difference between the cost of the drug under the plan and the cost of the drug when purchased without insurance.
Events scheduled to help youth fight Ohio opioid epidemic
COLUMBUS, Ohio (OFBF) – Four regional Hope for Ohio events will welcome youth, parents, advisers and others interested in helping young people fight the opioid epidemic. A project of Ohio Farm Bureau and other supporting organizations, Hope for Ohio works with 4-H and FFA members to encourage peer-to-peer prevention measures. At each event, speakers will share stories and information that will provide youth with tools needed to be prevention leaders in their communities.
The regional events are:
Sept. 29: Beck’s research farm facility, London, Noon to 3 p.m.
Nov. 3: FFA Camp Muskingum, Carrollton, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Nov. 10: Spencerville High School, Spencerville, Noon to 3 p.m.
Nov. 17, Batavia Community Center, Batavia, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
These regional events are a follow-up to last year’s statewide Hope for Ohio event held on the campus of Ohio State University and is one of several projects by Ohio and county Farm Bureaus to combat Ohio’s opioid crisis.
For more information, or to register, visit ofb.ag/2018hopeforohio.
Trump campaigns in Montana, lauds Kavanaugh’s progress
By KEN THOMAS and DARLENE SUPERVILLE
Friday, September 7
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — President Donald Trump praised Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s progress toward winning confirmation to the Supreme Court but decried the “anger and the meanness on the other side,” blasting Democrats’ behavior toward his nominee as “sick.”
During a campaign rally in Montana Thursday, Trump sought to elevate Kavanaugh’s confirmation as a political litmus test for voters as he embraced a Republican challenger to Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, a top GOP target in the fall elections.
Trump also raised the specter of impeachment if Democrats win control of Congress.
As he stood alongside Tester’s opponent, state Auditor Matt Rosendale, Trump said Tester “will never drain the swamp because he happens to live in the swamp.” Seeking to portray the Montana farmer as a tool of liberal Democrats, Trump said, “Jon Tester talks like he’s from Montana, but he votes like he’s Nancy Pelosi” — a reference to the House minority leader, a frequent Trump target.
Trump said many of the Senate Democrats whom Tester had helped elect “are attacking Judge Kavanaugh and looking like fools.” He said Kavanaugh — who is strongly opposed by Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee — deserved “overwhelming bipartisan support.”
“It’s embarrassing to watch those people make fools of themselves as they scream and shout at this great gentleman,” Trump said after three days of committee hearings on the nomination.
The president’s strategy on the Supreme Court nomination aims to turn the screws on Tester and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, where Trump planned to appear Friday. Both red-state Democrats find themselves caught between their Senate leaders and their states’ more conservative voters, who are more broadly supportive of Trump’s pick.
Neither senator has laid down clear markers on how they will vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination, which Senate Republican leaders hope to bring to a floor vote later this month — just weeks before the Nov. 6 general election.
White House officials contend the Supreme Court was a powerful motivator for Republican base voters in 2016, when Trump won the White House, and they’re seeking to capitalize on Kavanaugh’s nomination to help overcome an enthusiasm gap with Democrats. Likewise, a vote for Kavanaugh by either Tester or Heitkamp could frustrate a Democratic base eager for a more confrontational approach to the Trump administration.
Democrats question whether the Kavanaugh vote will resonate in the race to unseat Tester. He has emphasized his independence and willingness to cross the aisle to work with Trump, who carried Montana by 20 percentage points two years ago.
“It’s not like you’re standing in the grocery store line and people are talking about the Kavanaugh confirmation. It’s pretty inside baseball for folks,” said Barrett Kaiser, a Montana-based Democratic strategist. Kaiser said Tester had demonstrated a “proven bipartisan record of working with this administration when it helps Montana and oppose them when it doesn’t.”
Tester opposed Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, and the Republican tax bill, but took flak from the left for supporting a bill easing the rules on banks. He has a television ad promoting his collaboration with Trump as he seeks to inoculate himself against conservative critics.
Likewise, Heitkamp is locked in a tough re-election fight in heavily Republican North Dakota, where she narrowly won six years ago and now faces a more formidable opponent in Rep. Kevin Cramer. Cramer has been a fervent supporter of Trump, who remains popular in North Dakota.
During the rally, Trump claimed Democrats would “hurt” Social Security and “kill” Medicare. Trump promised during his 2016 campaign that he would save those programs.
Trump also warned that a Democratic-controlled Congress would pursue impeachment despite the strong economy and set a precedent that would hurt future presidents. A few Democratic lawmakers have called for Trump to be removed from office.
“Let’s say a Democrat gets elected and let’s say we have a Republican House. We will impeach that Democrat, right?” Trump said. “You’re going to have a country that’s going to turn into a third-world country because if the opposite party becomes president, every time before it even starts, before you even found out whether or not he or she is going to do a great job, they’ll say, ‘We want to impeach him!’”
“If it does happen, it’s your fault because you didn’t go out to vote,” Trump said.
Trump also lit into Tester for his role in torpedoing Trump’s nomination of Ronny Jackson to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Earlier this year, Tester released unsubstantiated, anonymous allegations against Jackson that accused him of on-the-job drunkenness, overprescribing medication and fostering a hostile work environment. Jackson, a Navy rear admiral who was Trump’s personal physician, denied the claims and eventually withdrew his nomination.
“What Tester did to Admiral Jackson should never, ever be allowed,” Trump said, calling the allegations “lies.”
Superville reported from Washington. Associated Press writers James MacPherson in Bismarck, North Dakota; Matthew Brown in Billings, Montana; and Catherine Lucey and Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report.
Giuliani tells AP: Trump won’t answer obstruction questions
By JONATHAN LEMIRE
Friday, September 7
NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump will not answer federal investigators’ questions, in writing or in person, about whether he tried to block the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, one of the president’s attorneys told The Associated Press.
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said questions about obstruction of justice were a “no-go.”
Giuliani’s statement was the most definitive rejection yet of special counsel Robert Mueller’s efforts to interview the president about any efforts to obstruct the investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and Russians. It signals the Trump’s lawyers are committed to protecting the president from answering questions about actions the president took in office.
It’s unclear if Giuliani’s public position has been endorsed by Trump, who has said he wants to answer questions under oath. Negotiations about the scope and format of an interview are still ongoing. If the legal team holds its stance, it could force Mueller to try to subpoena the president, likely triggering a standoff that would lead to the Supreme Court.
Mueller’s office has previously sought to interview the president about the obstruction issue, including his firing last year of former FBI Director James Comey and his public attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump’s legal team has argued that the president has the power to hire and fire appointees and the special counsel does not have the authority to ask him to explain those decisions. Giuliani said Thursday the team was steadfast in that position.
“That’s a no-go. That is not going to happen,” Giuliani said. “There will be no questions at all on obstruction.”
In a letter last week, Mueller’s team said it would accept written responses from Trump on questions related to Russian election interference. Giuliani suggested Thursday that Trump’s lawyers had agreed to those terms but wanted to prohibit investigators from asking follow-up questions.
“It would be in written form and if you want to follow up on our answers, justify it,” Giuliani said. “Show us why you didn’t get there the first time.”
He said he was not categorically ruling out answering a second round of questions but the entire matter of whether there would be follow-up inquiries should be settled before the president answers anything at all.
“We aren’t going to let them spring it on us,” said Giuliani, who has served as lawyer-spokesman for the president’s personal legal team, using television interviews and public comments as a tactic in the negotiations.
In subsequent interviews late Thursday, Giuliani backtracked slightly, saying that talks over answering obstruction questions were ongoing.
The moment encapsulated one of Giuliani’s roles on the Trump’s legal team: to lay down public markers on interview negotiations that are actually taking place behind closed doors.
Giuliani has repeatedly moved the goalposts on what would be required for a presidential interview and, at times, has been forced to clarify previous statements. In earlier interviews, Giuliani had suggested some obstruction questions could be allowed if prosecutors show necessity and preview the questions with the defense lawyers.
Trump, in a Fox News interview taped ahead of a Thursday night rally in Montana, was noncommittal when asked about a possible Mueller interview.
In the latest letter to the legal team, Mueller’s office didn’t address obstruction questions, indicating investigators would later assess what additional information it needs from the president after receiving a response about the written submissions, according to a person familiar with the document.
The person familiar with the letter spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to publicly discuss the negotiations.
Giuliani’s declaration drew a swift rebuke from Rep. Adam Schiff, the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, who tweeted: “Trump’s legal team never had any intention of allowing him to be interviewed, knowing he is incapable of telling the truth. It’s past time to subpoena the President. No one is above the law.”
Though the president has publicly said he was eager to face questions from Mueller, his lawyers have been far more reluctant to make him available for an interview and have questioned whether Mueller has the right to ask him about actions that he is authorized, under the Constitution, to take as president. Giuliani’s comments came just hours after Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, espoused a belief in an expansive view of executive powers and declined to say whether a president can be subpoenaed and forced to testify.
Mueller’s team raised the prospect in March that it could subpoena the president, though this would unquestionably prompt a court fight.
The Supreme Court has never definitively ruled on the question of whether a president can be forced to testify, though the justices did rule in 1974 that Richard Nixon had to produce recordings and documents that had been subpoenaed.
In addition to questions about Comey and Sessions, Mueller has expressed interest in Trump’s role in drafting a statement to The New York Times about a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower attended by his son, Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian lawyer.
Trump Jr. took the meeting, emails show, after it was described as part of a Russian government effort to help his father’s campaign by providing derogatory information about Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Trump has said he knew nothing about the meeting before it happened.
Trump and Giuliani have led an onslaught of attacks on Mueller’s credibility, claiming that the special counsel was biased and that the entire probe was a “witch hunt.” Giuliani has also demanded that the probe suspend its activities with the midterm elections approaching, but the former mayor said Thursday he was not certain of Mueller’s intentions.
Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Chad Day contributed reporting from Washington.
Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JonLemire