Cincinnati shooting: Why was the shooter able to get a gun?

CINCINNATI – How could the man accused of fatally shooting three in downtown Cincinnati on Thursday, a person who had a history of petty crime – and possible mental health issues – purchase a gun legally in Ohio?

Omar Santa Perez, 29, fatally shot three people and injured two others before he was shot and killed by police officers Thursday morning at Fifth Third Bank’s corporate headquarters on Fountain Square. 

Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac said Thursday that the 9mm semi-automatic pistol “appears to have been legally purchased.” 

No evidence has surfaced yet that would suggest Santa should have been barred from owning a gun under federal or state laws.  

Police are looking into Santa’s mental health. No specific diagnosis has been reported to date. Santa sued CNBC and TD Ameritrade in 2017, but a judge dismissed his complaint as “rambling, difficult to decipher and borders on delusional.”  

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During a 2014 arrest in South Carolina, the officer found Santa lying on the ground and smoking a cigar in front of a business that had fired him.

“The suspect appeared to be upset and disoriented. When I would ask the suspect questions but he would respond with strange answers,” the report said. “The suspect mumbled something about the war and the economy, but for the most part talked about that he was upset that he was terminated.”

Here’s how Santa could have obtained a gun legally.

First, Ohio and federal law do not ban people with mental health diagnoses from owning a firearm. They are banned only if a judge deems them to have a mental health issue or sends them to a mental health institution.  

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