Mason SWAT incident: Escaped inmate shot, killed by police held woman at knifepoint

Credit: Jake Ryle

Credit: Jake Ryle

Thomas Cromwell, one of two inmates who escaped from the River City Correctional Center in Camp Washington, was shot to death Tuesday morning by police, following a nearly 12-hour SWAT situation at a Mason hotel, according to David Fornshell, Warren County prosecutor.

Fornshell said Cromwell held a woman at knifepoint inside her hotel room and made statements that led police to believe her life was in danger.

The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office said detectives went to the Baymont Inn on Water Park Drive to serve warrants for Thomas Cromwell’s arrest. The sheriff’s office said it called Mason police and Warren County SWAT when Cromwell refused to cooperate.

Fornshell said the woman he held hostage was with him of her own free will to start, but when police attempted to contact Cromwell, it escalated to a hostage situation.

Hours into the standoff with SWAT, Fornshell said Cromwell made comments that led police to believe the woman’s life was “in imminent danger.” The tactical team made the decision to force entry into the room and confronted Cromwell, Fornshell said.

“Ultimately they used lethal force against him,” said Fornshell.

He said Cromwell was killed by a single gunshot wound and when he died, the knife he’d been allegedly using to hold the woman hostage was found next to his body.

A recording of a video call was sent to WCPO by a person close to Cromwell. In the call, Cromwell said police had denied demands he’d made.

“They reject my calls and they rejected my offer, so I ain’t letting s*** out until I get what I want first,” Cromwell said in the video call. “And they trying to deny me all this s*** is making it bad for her.”

Further audio from Cromwell is muffled and difficult to hear at the end of the call.

Hotel guests said an employee went door-to-door, evacuating people from the building around 3 p.m. Fornshell confirmed the hotel was evacuated in the process of the standoff with SWAT.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation has been called in by Mason police to investigate the incident. BCI serves as a state-run crime lab and records-keeper and it offers impartial investigative services to local, state and federal law enforcement.

Fornshell said, to his knowledge, there is no body camera footage from the incident because not every Warren County agency has body cameras.

“I’m not aware of whether the tactical team has policies that govern body cameras,” he said. “I’m not aware of there being any body cam of any of the events that were described.”

Cromwell, 27, escaped from the River City Correctional Center in Camp Washington with another inmate, 29-year-old Shawn Black, between midnight and 1 a.m. July 9. The two were discovered missing when staff discovered bedding and clothes made in the shape of a person in Cromwell’s bed that morning.

“We want to reiterate that Mr. Cromwell’s escape from River City Correctional Center was not under the supervision of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office,” spokesperson Kyla Woods said. “We were notified and asked to investigate the incident.”

WCPO is a content partner of Cox First Media/Journal-News.

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