Cincinnati police officers were already trying to move a crowd of hundreds of youths out of Smale Riverfront Park when gunfire erupted killing two people and injuring three others, said Christopher Smitherman, vice mayor and chair of city council's law and public safety committee.
Milo Watson, 16, and Dexter Wright, Jr., 19 were each killed, police said. Smitherman said three females, including a 17-year-old still in critical condition, were shot and injured.
The park closes at 10 p.m. Officers were there before gunfire erupted to try to disperse the crowd, he said.
Crowds of young people have become a regular occurrence at night at the riverfront park, Smitherman said. Cincinnati police said 400 to 500 youths were at the park the evening of Sunday, July 4.
More than 50 Cincinnati officers responded after the gunfire, and officers from other agencies assisted including from Greenhills Police Department, he said.
Smitherman said council has worked to supply officers with more equipment to help save lives in the past year.
"Well, they had to use those tourniquets last night in order to save lives,” he said.
The vice mayor said this immediate time after the shooting is the time to have conversations about the idea of defunding police.
Police are only part of the response but they need more support, and to feel supported as they rush into dangerous situations, Smitherman said.
"We are 90 officers light, right now, but we also need the community to support us,” he said.
Smitherman offered his deepest condolences for people who lost their lives Sunday night. Seeing the ages of the two males shot is shocking, he said.
An open and public discussion about family members and guardians knowing where their children are at all times needs to happen, he said.
“Families are going to have to step up and know where their babies are and there has to be a moral drumbeat here,” Smitherman said.