The hold-up tapes

Back in January, my girlfriend and I were the victims of an attempted robbery in Over-the-Rhine near my home. I wrote about it in my weekly CityBeat column.

It was a horribly devastating thing to have happen to us. We’re both very supportive of downtown and Over-the-Rhine and want nothing more than for those neighborhoods (and the entire city) to flourish. I’ve been living in OTR for nearly four years; for five she’s been a paramedic working downtown and in OTR caring for the sick and injured.

Needless to say, the gun and the kid who held it – who first just approached the car and asked us for the time – shook us both to the core. It breaks my heart how one incident can rattle the easiness I’ve felt down here since shortly after I moved from Oakley in 2004. It’s made me question things I don’t want to question. And as much as I hoped the feelings would subside, they have only slightly.

After the incident I did what a reporter does: I requested the dispatch communications, 911 tapes, dispatch and police reports.

Listening to them gives me chills. Around the corner from where the incident happened there were two fire units wrapping up a call. We drove to them and turns out she knows them (and I had met a few of them before, too). One of them put a call out on the radio that a firefighter had a gun pulled on them. Of course she was off-duty and I was with her, but those words broadcast over the radio sent , it seems, every police and fire unit in the city to us.

Seeing police car after fire truck and after bike cop after firefighter after police officer come to our aid was an amazing feeling. And despite their efforts, the asshole who ruined a, perhaps, ungrounded feeling of relative safety I had in my neighborhood, was never caught.

You can listen to the radio dispatch tape below. The 911 call, frankly, was too embarrassing to post and had little information on it. That’s because we gave most of the details about what happened to the officers who responded to the scene and didn’t end up telling the 911 operator. The callĀ  recording basically is she and I not really listening to the dispatcher ask questions about what happened (we were distracted), while I string a number of curse words together to describe the feelings I had about just having a gun pulled on me. In other words, not much to hear.

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(I have edited the tape down to about six minutes from about 18 minutes. I basically deleted dead air time to make the tape shorter.)

Author: Joe Wessels

Joe Wessels is a freelance journalist and photographer. Wessels covers local news events for Thomson Reuters news service and features for's Cincinnati Guide site, plus is the executive director of hyperlocal news site, He wrote for The Cincinnati Post, covering Cincinnati City Hall and Hamilton County government and wrote a weekly political column, which continued weekly at Cincinnati CityBeat. Previously, he was a reporter for the Cincinnati Business Courier and writes or has written for several publications in Cincinnati and around the country including The Cincinnati Enquirer, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine and the Sacramento News & Review. He is a native of Colerain Township, one of Cincinnati's western suburbs, and now lives in Over-the-Rhine near downtown Cincinnati. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a journalism writing certificate from the University of Cincinnati. He also graduated from Colerain High School, is an avid photographer, news junkie and was once a roller rink disc jockey, and sometimes rides a scooter around town.

1 thought on “The hold-up tapes”

  1. Oh Joe! Not a good way to catch up with an elementary school buddy. What a horrible ordeal. It’s quite expected to have a touch of PTSD after such a frightening experience. Stay safe and I vote you move to Florida!

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