Hamilton County Job & Family Services employees may recognize Jim York as the deputy who watches over parking lots and streets near our offices in the morning. But on September 6, York was one of first officers on the scene of a deadly shooting on Fountain Square.
He was walking out of the Alms & Doepke building when he heard the call of an active shooter. He jumped in his cruiser and headed to the scene, following Cincinnati police officer Eric Kaminsky. “I think that’s the fastest I’ve ever driven. We got there in, I’d say, two or three minutes. We were the first two there,” York said. He grabbed his M16 rifle and the two officers split up to contain the suspect as other city officers arrived.
“I went up to the door, and grabbed the door handle,” York said. “I had thought there was a city cop with me, but there wasn’t. So I grabbed the handle and said, ‘Here we go.”
“I got to the receptionist desk. There was a lady under there,” he said. “I grabbed her and pulled her out and said, ‘Go go go. Get out of here.’ Then I just stayed there just watching until the door shut and she got out.”
As he walked around a corner towards the elevator, a glass door shattered nearby when city police officers began firing at the shooter.
He stepped back for a moment, then spotted the man and trained his rifle on him.
“I went through that broken area and he came across. I started tracking him and I couldn’t fire because the city officers were on the other side.” York was ready to shoot, but didn’t have to. “After he passed the last officer, I started to squeeze (the trigger) and he just dropped from my sight and he was down.”
York provided cover while a city officer approached and handcuffed the shooter before other officers took over the scene.
After he walked to his car, he was approached by a Cincinnati firefighter.
“I didn’t realize I was squeezing my hands and opening and closing them.” He said. The firefighter pointed out that York looked a little shaken up. “And he just took care of me,” York said. “I don’t know that fireman’s name. I wish I could get it.”
York and others who responded that day were honored with a ceremony on Fountain Square earlier this month.
Reflecting on that day, York says he did his job, just like any other deputy would.
“Any officer, these guys in this office, anybody would have done what I did,” he said. “These guys in this building, I trust every one of these guys.”
His experience that day has helped him understand why he is a deputy.
“It hit me,” he said. “Why we do what we do. For that average person who’s just trying to get by and go to work.“