Published 10:17 AM EDT Sep 8, 2018
A day after a gunman killed three and wounded two others in the lobby of Fifth Third's headquarters, the bank's CEO said America needs to end the mass shootings that have repeatedly erupted across the country.
"This has to stop – we have to find a way to stop the gun violence in this country," Greg Carmichael told The Enquirer. "I don't have the answers, but we have to find a path forward."
On Thursday, Carmichael and other executives were hustled to a secure room after the shots were fired and the headquarters went into lockdown.
From there, bank officials could see the shooting from every security camera in the building and relayed it to police to identify, track and find the shooter. Carmichael later visited the bullet-riddled lobby littered with shattered glass.
"It was horrific... horrific," Carmichael said. "Something no one should see."
Carmichael was also proud of employees who helped one another during the attack. He said one worker risked his life to pull a co-worker to safety and warned others from stepping into the line of fire.
Carmichael spent Friday talking with shaken bank employees at different offices and on company conference calls. The 32-story headquarters building on Fountain Square was officially closed Friday.
He declined to say if his personal opinions on gun violence in America had changed after the shooting. "It's too early," Carmichael said.
The CEO added: "We never expected something like this to materialize on our doorstep the way that it did... We'll learn from this and get better and be stronger."
Two of the victims identified by police, including one who was killed, were Fifth Third employees.
Whitney Austin, 37, a vice president and a digital lending product manager, was shot 12 times, but survived and is in stable condition. She has worked for Fifth Third since 2003 and lives in Louisville, but commutes to Cincinnati regularly. She was on a conference call when she walked into headquarters.
Luis Felipe Calderón, 48, a finance manager in the commercial division, was killed in the attack. He had worked at Fifth Third since last fall.
Two contractors working in the building were also killed: Richard Newcomer, 64, and Prudhvi Raj Kandepi, 25. A second surviving victim, who is in critical condition, has not been identified.
On Friday, Carmichael spoke to 4,000 bank employees on a conference call. He later visited four local branches to talk with employees one-on-one.
Carmichael talked with a few employees at the headquarters, even though most workers were told to work from home. He also spoke with community leaders by phone.
Fifth Third officials said it is exploring how to memorialize the victims and support their families. No specifics have been finalized.
The bank has stressed via social media the importance of blood donation and has scheduled Hoxworth events in response to the shootings.