Woman shot at Fifth Third Center released from hospital; coroner talks about investigation
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Whitney Austin, the woman shot more than 12 times at the Fifth Third Center, was released from the hospital Tuesday.
Also Tuesday, Hamilton County's coroner held a news conference and said Omar Santa-Perez, the shooter, was shot multiple times, but a shotgun wound to the head caused his death.
"All I can say to the families is that we're truly sorry for what they're going through. I never would have imagined that would happen here in Cincinnati," said Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco.
Last Thursday, Santa-Perez fired more than 30 rounds, killing three men and wounding Austin and Brian Sarver, who was released from the hospital Monday.
"He was running back and forth between the elevator banks. He repeatedly shot the victims and there was no rhyme or reason, " Dr. Sammarco said.
Santa-Perez had hundreds of rounds of ammunition -- both hollow point and full-metal jacket. He set up on a reception desk where he reloaded two to three times.
"Based on the picture I'm seeing, most of the unfired ammunition or cartridges look like full-metal jacket. They're all 9mm Luger caliber," said firearms examiner John Heile.
Santa-Perez killed Rick Newcomer, Luis Calderon and Prudhvi Raj Kandepi. They were shot seven, four and one time, but not necessarily in that order. Dr. Sammarco and Kandepi were born in the same small town in India. She and her mother just happened to meet Kandepi and his roommates at the Hindu temple last winter.
"She's just a very open and friendly person, so she walked up, they got into a conversation. She asked me to come over, and I met them and we talked in Telagu as well as English and just engaged in conversation and asked him what he was doing here and that he was far away from home," said Dr. Sammarco.
Knowing that she had met the 25-year-old and his friends made what happened last week all the more tragic. Dr. Sammarco met with some of Kandepi's friends Tuesday. She also said the injuries and death would have been worse had firefighters and police not acted so quickly.
"Our city, the city of Cincinnati, and our first responders couldn't have done a better job. I'm very proud of what they've done," Dr. Sammarco said.
Newcomer's funeral was held Tuesday and Kandepi's body was on its way to India. Sarver released this statement Tuesday:
Would like to thank God for protecting me during the shooting. I want to express my heartfelt condolences to Rick Newcomer's family. I worked very closely with Rick during the past year and he was a terrific guy.