Placeholder Image

A police car outside Cincinnati's Cameo Nightclub. [Photo: AP Photo/John Minchillo]

Shot and Forgotten

The Cincinnati Nightclub Shooting Left 16 People Wounded. What Happens to Them Now?

There have been at least nine mass-casualty shootings in the city since 2013. Here's how you can help The Trace report on gun violence's forgotten survivors.

The music thumped, but the gunfire cracked louder. So reported a witness of Sunday morning’s shooting at Cameo Club in east Cincinnati, Ohio. All told, at least 17 people were shot.

As clubgoers fled, first responders ran in.

“My understanding is they literally had to step over some victims to get to more critically wounded victims,” said Sergeant Dan Hils, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Cincinnati’s police union.

One victim, O’Bryan Spikes, 27, died from his wounds. Another two were listed in critical condition.

Mayor John Cranley declared that the shooting marked “one of the worst days in the history of Cincinnati.”

But there have been other days like it in his city, and in communities across the United States. High-profile massacres like those that have made dreadful landmarks of a South Carolina church, an Oregon community college, and a California social services center draw widespread attention. Yet multiple-casualty shootings happen almost every day. According to a New York Times analysis, there were 358 incidents with four or more gunshot victims wounded or killed in 2015 alone.

The Times described these shootings as the type “that erupts with such anesthetic regularity that it is rendered almost invisible, except to the mostly black victims, survivors and attackers.”

According to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive, Sunday’s shooting marked the ninth time that four or more people have been killed or wounded in a single incident in Cincinnati since 2013:

  • May 13, 2013: Four people wounded in a shooting near a grocery store in the Spring Grove Village area.
  • May 7, 2015: Four struck during what police called a “targeted drive-by shooting” in the East Westwood area.
  • July 17, 2015: Four people, including three adults and a 15-year-old girl, shot and injured during a party in Westwood.
  • August 21, 2015: Five injured, two killed during a party at an Elks Lodge in Madisonville on a Friday night. The survivors included men between the ages of 23 and 57.
  • September 28, 2015: Five people, including a 3-year-old boy, shot in another drive-by, this one in the neighborhood of Evanston.
  • December 8, 2015: One person killed, three wounded in front of a market in East Westwood.
  • July 24, 2016: One dead, seven wounded following a shooting at Doubles Bar in the Hamilton suburb. A suspected retaliatory double homicide followed 11 days later.
  • February 28, 2017: Six people wounded at an apartment on Casey Drive in Northside. The survivors included a 16-year-old boy, an 18-year-old woman, a 21-year-old man, and a 22-year-old man.

Together, these nine shootings resulted in a total of 59 gunshot victims. All but five survived, which is a somewhat higher rate than the average. Generally, according to the latest federal data, only one in five victims of a gun assault dies. Do the math, and it adds up to as many as a million-plus Americans currently living with gunshot wounds. After Sunday, Cincinnati now has another 16.

For shooting victims requiring hospital stays, the costs are steep — about $24,700 per patient, according to a pioneering study by doctors at Stanford University. Research also shows that gunshot victims are at elevated risk for being shot again. But there is much more that we don’t yet know about what happens to people after they survive a gunshot wound.

The severity of gunshot injuries ranges widely; a few inches can be the difference between a graze wound and a severed spinal cord. The recovery process also differs dramatically by victim, though long-term challenges are common.

Eighteen years after surviving the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, Anne Marie Hochhalter still faces post-traumatic stress disorder and a host of chronic health issues. Others, like gunshot survivor Tommy Williams of Norfolk, Virginia, must learn to navigate their cities in wheelchairs and with limited transportation options. The effects of shootings can also take a financial and emotional toll on caregivers. Brenda Herron, an Illinois healthcare worker, has been working double duty as the legal guardian of 15-year-old Michael Moss, who was shot four times in Chicago last year.

At The Trace, we’re trying to fill that information gap about what happens to surviving gunshot victims. Earlier this month we launched a survey to help us connect with more gunshot survivors and document their experiences. If you know someone who’s survived a shooting, please pass on the link.