One woman died and eight others were hospitalized after at least two gunmen in Colerain Township, Ohio entered a gender-reveal party and opened fire July 8.
The party was intended for Cheyanne Willis, 21, who said that she learned the gender of her baby alongside her family and friends just hours before the shooting. Instead of a joyful celebration of future life, things turned tragic, and Willis said she lost her baby as a result.
The eight injured victims were treated at local hospitals with “non-life threatening injuries,” authorities said.
But now, police are saying that Willis lied and was never pregnant in the first place. They haven’t made any arrests in the incident and said they’ve continuously been provided false information as they investigate the shooting.
“Sadly, the police department, media and public have been given information we have found to be false,” Colerain Police explained in a statement July 17. “Hours and days have been wasted following leads known to be lies when they were provided to our officers. From the very beginning of this investigation, we have met significant resistance that is uncommon from victims of crime wanting a resolution.”
Willis, who was the subject of a viral video in 2014 when she was assaulted and had messages written on her forehead, posted messages of gratitude to those at her party not long before the shooting at her home.
Police are still on the hunt for at least two shooters, but have no suspect information. They are asking anyone with information into the matter to call (513)-321-COPS and are offering a $10,000 reward for information.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Suspects Entered the Party While the Group Was Watching TV
Colerain Township Police Chief Mark Denney said at least two suspects entered the home on Capstan Drive around 11:30 p.m. July 8 and started shooting at party guests, who were all watching TV together in the living room. He added that there were more people at the party at the time, but it’s unknown if anyone was targeted by the shooters.
“Obviously with nine people shot, we have to gather how many people were in the room at the time and figure that out during our witness statements,” Denney said at a press conference.
The three injured children, ages 2, 6 and 8 were taken by ambulance to Children’s Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, police said. The five adult victims were taken to University of Cincinnati Medical Center, a spokeswoman told Fox 19 news, and their identities weren’t immediately released by authorities.
In chilling dispatch audio, a woman at the party who called 9-1-1 is heard saying “they just ran in and started shooting. There’s a pregnant woman here, they kept on running.”
Screams can be heard in the background of a call made by a male at the party, who said he looked outside to see the suspects. In just seconds, he saw them run inside and “just started shooting.”
To listen to the full, 22 minutes of dispatcher audio, click here.
A family friend named Candice Verga told WLWT News 5 that she was at the party earlier in the day and described it as being a “positive” and “happy” environment. She heard the shots fired and said that she ran back into the home to help.
“Everybody’s screaming and crying and it’s just all panic and I’m even shaking and everything,” she said to the news station. “I seen the little boy on the floor and I grabbed him … everybody else was tending to everybody, but he was laying there crying, so I wrapped up my shirt … first thing is put pressure, and then we carried him outside.”
A neighbor who lives across the street, Cheyenne Sizemore, told WLWT 5 that she heard what she believed were “six-to-seven gunshots.”
“It was pretty quick succession, it was one after the other, like they went in there and they unloaded as many bullets as they possibly could and then ran off,” she told the news outlet.
Police said they believed that two gunmen entered through the door and fired 14 rounds at party guests. A police report said the gunmen didn’t say anything or demand anything as they ran off into the night.
Police believe there was no shootout, and an unloaded gun, believed to belong to the home’s owner, was recovered on the home’s front lawn.
2. Willis Told a News Outlet That She Was ‘No Longer Pregnant’ Because of Her Injuries, but Cops Said She Lied & Was Never Pregnant
Willis said she was set to learn the gender of her baby for the first time at the party. Soon enough she said she found that she’d be having a boy. She posted an excited message notifying her friends to her Facebook account.
As the party was wrapping up, she took a moment to thank those who came out for her special day, including the Garretts. The message was posted just three hours before the suspects entered the home and started shooting.
“Family is everything,” she wrote. “Thank y’all for coming and showing support and love 😍😍😍”
The next day, she told reporters outside the home, while on crutches, that her unborn baby was killed as a result.
Willis told FOX 19 NOW that she was shot in the leg and is “no longer pregnant,” but didn’t provide any information on the incident other than saying the suspects were wearing “all black.”
However, police are saying Willis lied to them about being pregnant and hindered the investigation in the process.
“We were led to believe an unborn child was murdered in this incident only to find out that is not the case,” police said. “The Coletain Police Department will not comment further on any other misleading information, other than to say we wish our time had been spent on true leads that would help us remove these dangerous criminals from the streets.”
Colerain Police spokesman Jim Love said he would let prosecutors decide if Willis should face charges for providing false information.
3. A Viral Video Showed Willis Getting Assaulted With a Message Being Written on Her Head, Which Was Shaved by the Group
On December 24, 2014, Willis was involved in a viral video when her head was shaved and a phrase was written on her forehead in a violent assault. The graphic video was posted to social media, and Willis claimed that she was bullied by a group that included her now ex-boyfriend.
“It’s hard for me to talk about,” Willis said to WTVR. “I’m traumatized. I jump at every noise I hear.”
The incident happened outside of Cincinnati Mills Mall in a parking lot and caused quite a stir in the community.
Willis claimed that she was set up by her now ex-boyfriend, Quincy Gardner. She said that the two were driving to pick up money from his brother. As they did so and came to a stop, Gardner allegedly pulled her out of the vehicle and five women approached her and started attacking her. She said that they kicked her, bound her wrists, cut her hair, wrote a message on her forehead and robbed her before fleeing the scene. A witness at a gym located nearby found her and called police.
Willis filed a police report with Forest Park Police, and Gardner and Cheyenne Fisher were charged with robbery by authorities on Christmas Day 2014.
But Fisher had quite a different story for what happened before play was hit on the video camera. She said that it was Willis who “swung” at the group of women.
“She’s hollering — cussing him out, cussing me out, then charged at us,” Fisher said to WTVR, just before she turned herself into authorities. “We didn’t plan on fighting or anything — we just planned on going, getting my car and leaving.”
Fisher accused Willis of stealing her car, too, saying that she had loaned her Chevy Impala for her to use earlier, but suddenly demanded the car back. But Willis accused her Gardner of setting the whole thing up.
“I’m embarrassed, this is embarrassing,” she said to the news outlet. “I had to come out of my comfort zone, I’m ugly now. My hair was cut, I’m not the same. I just want justice.”
Willis said that she quit her job because of the attack and was afraid to go outside.
According to WLWT 5, a grand jury decided not to indict Gardner and Fisher in the incident a few weeks later.
4. Willis’ Cousin Was Killed in the Shooting
The one person killed in the tragic shooting was Willis’ cousin, Autum Garrett.
Garrett, from Huntington, Indiana, was a mother of two and a wife of Bryan. A Facebook post by one of Garrett’s other cousins says that Bryan and the couples two children were also victims in the deadly shooting.
Garrett and Bryan were high school sweethearts with both attending Huntington North High School. They got married in 2013, their Facebook accounts said, and many photos show both of them sitting together happily with their two children.
The same cousin that posted the massage asking for thoughts and prayers set up a GoFundMe account for her family where she’s been providing updates to the rest of the Garretts’ health. She said that Bryan was in intensive care and was unresponsive.
However, he’s since improved and has been diagnosed with a broken leg in two different spots. The children, according to Ashley, are set to be discharged from the hospital soon.
To donate to the GoFundMe campaign, which raised over $1,200 in 11 hours, click here.
For more information on Autum, click below.
5. The Colerain Community Is in Shock After the Shooting
Understandably so, the shooting incident has shocked the Colerain community, which is a short 25-minute drive northwest of Cincinnati.
“I saw a lot of things…you know, its very disturbing,” Verga said to Fox 19 News while another neighbor called it a tragic situation.
“I think it’s a low life that does something like that,” neighbor Bob Thomas said to Fox 19. “I don’t know man, it’s sad, it really is. I got no use for somebody like that. Shooting adults is bad enough… but kids.”
With the shooting suspects still on the loose, Denney told those in the community to stay safe and vigilant at a press conference July 10.
“I would like nothing more in my position to be able to stand up here and tell the community they have absolutely nothing to worry about, but I’m not going to provide statements or information that’s false just to make people feel better,” he said at a press conference.
Denney didn’t say there was a specific threat on those community members, but told people to take precautions until the suspects are apprehended.
“We would encourage people to take the same precautions they always do; call our police department if there’s anything suspicious, to take reasonable precautions — keep your house locked and lights on,” he said a the press conference.
Watch the full press conference in the video below: