CHESTER TWP., Clinton County — A man is dead after he attempted to breach an FBI field office then led a pursuit up I-71 that included shooting at a state trooper, followed soon by an exchange of gunfire, and a nearly seven-hour standoff.
He was shot dead after the long standoff, the Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Nathan Dennis announced just after 6 p.m. Thursday at a press conference.
The OSHP stated that officers made attempts to negotiate with the suspect and to use less lethal tactics, but those were unsuccessful. As he raised a firearm and pointed it at officers, he was shot dead at around 3:42 p.m.
The OSHP stated that more details may be released Thursday night, as many have not been released as they are part of the ongoing investigation. His identity was not released.
The FBI reported Thursday morning that “an armed subject attempted to breach the Visitor Screening Facility” at the FBI building in the Kenwood area of Cincinnati. He reportedly fired off a nail gun at personnel, and then brandished an assault-type weapon before fleeing.
After an alarm and a response by FBI special agents, the subject fled north onto Interstate 71.
After the suspect fled the FBI office, the Ohio State Highway Patrol was notified.
The confrontation at the FBI’s Cincinnati field office comes as officials warn of an increase in threats against federal agents in the days following a search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
A trooper spotted the suspect vehicle on northbound I-71 in Warren County and attempted a traffic stop near the rest area at 9:37 a.m. The suspect failed to stop and a pursuit began with the suspect firing shots during the pursuit, according to Lt. Nathan Dennis of the OSHP at a briefing at the media staging area at Caesar Creek Flea Market around 1:30 p.m.
Police scanner traffic monitored by the News Journal in Wilmington indicated that Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers were in pursuit of the suspect and had entered Clinton County at approximately 9:45 a.m.
Over the scanner, troopers were discussing using stop sticks and had “long guns” (rifles) out as they pursued the northbound white Ford Crown Victoria sedan. Troopers reported the suspect had passed the I-71 Wilmington Road exit and troopers were positioned at I-71 and S.R. 73 and at I-71 and U.S. Route 68.
Further talk over the air and as reported — as accurately as possible from scanner traffic and other sources including Clinton County EMA — by the News Journal during about a two-hour period indicated:
9:50 a.m. a trooper stated that the suspect has exited at S.R. 73.
9:51: Suspect traveling on S.R. 73 toward Wilmington.
9:53: “Clear the intersection of S.R. 73 and Mitchell”. “Vehicle on Smith Road at this time.” Four cruisers involved in the pursuit.
9:54: “On Center Road.” “On Smith Road at the 71 overpass.”
9:55: “Crossing over 68 at this time.” Clinton County Sheriff’s deputies, Wilmington police officers, Chester Township Fire & EMS as well as Warren County Sheriff’s deputies are also involved.
9:58: “Need someone at south end of Smith at the edge of the cornfield.” At Center and Smith roads.
9:59: “Put CareFlight on standby please.”
10:00: Driver out of car behind it and “pointed a pistol at us.”
10:01 Putting up a perimeter around cornfield.
10:03: Wilmington Fire Department ambulances are stationed near the scene.
10:05: Suspect just reached inside the car.
10:11: Clinton County EMA reports shots fired.
10:14: CCSO and also Greene County Sheriff’s involved.
10:20: Chopper(s) in the air. Suspect sitting on ground behind car. Armored vehicle on the way. Staging SWAT team at Collett Propane.
10:24: Chopper: “Blood splatter on his shorts. Right thigh area” and “Part of windshield shot out.” Suspect on knees, holding rifle.”
10:26: Request for ODOT to shut down area of S.R. 380, Oglesbee.
10:30 CareFlight landed a the Wilmington Air Park and is standing by.
10:32: Two FBI negotiators coming to scene. S.R. 73 closed in both directions between Mitchell Road and S.R. 380.
10: 41: Nothing new heard on scanner other than officers staging in area. News Journal has reported near scene.
10:41: EMA: Lockdown in effect for all buildings within one-mile radius of Smith Road and Center Road intersection. Lock doors and stay inside.
10:45: Chopper: “Rifle down for the moment. He is on his knees.” Report that armored vehicle is on the scene.
11:23 FBI officers are on the scene and an FBI helicopter is landing. No other scanner chatter to report nor additional info of note from reporter at scene.
11:48 a.m.: Incident is ongoing. Clinton County EMA reports that earlier in incident, multiple shots fired by both suspect and officers. The suspect is wearing body armor, originally was wearing an orange shirt, now wearing a gray shirt. I-71 closed both directions between S.R. 68 and S.R. 73.
Threats against FBI
There have been growing threats in recent days against FBI agents and offices across the country since federal agents executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago. On Gab, a social media site popular with white supremacists and antisemites, users have warned they are preparing for an armed revolution, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
Federal officials have also been tracking an array of other concerning chatter on Gab and other platforms threatening violence against federal agents. FBI Director Christopher Wray denounced the threats as he visited another FBI office in Nebraska on Wednesday, according to the AP.
“Violence against law enforcement is not the answer, no matter who you’re upset with,” Wray said Wednesday in Omaha.
The FBI on Wednesday also warned its agents to avoid protesters and ensure their security key cards are “not visible outside FBI space,” citing an increase in social media threats to bureau personnel and facilities. It also warned agents to be aware of their surroundings and potential protesters.
The warning did not specifically mention this week’s search of Mar-a-Lago but attributed the online threats to “recent media reporting on FBI investigative activity,” the AP reported.
The News Journal’s John Hamilton and Gary Huffenberger contributed to this story