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Gunman killed after trying to breach FBI office in Ohio, authorities say

An unidentified man fled the scene after attempting to break into a FBI field office in Cincinnati while armed with a weapon on Aug. 11. (Video: WKEF/WRGT)
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An armed man wearing body armor tried to breach the FBI’s Cincinnati field office Thursday, sparking an hours-long standoff that ended when he was gunned down after firing at officers, authorities said.

The man tried to enter the visitor screening facility at 9:15 a.m., the FBI said in a statement, activating an alarm and triggering a heavy law enforcement response. He fled in a white Ford Crown Victoria onto Interstate 71, leading officers on a chase and firing in their direction, state Highway Patrol Lt. Nathan Dennis said.

The vehicle eventually stopped on a rural stretch of road, where Dennis said the man exchanged gunfire with authorities. He said they tried to negotiate with the man but he refused to cooperate. Shortly before 3 p.m., officers fatally shot him after he raised a gun at police, Dennis said.

State and federal officials declined to identify the man or describe a potential motive. However, a law enforcement source told The Washington Post that the man’s name is Ricky Shiffer. According to another law enforcement official familiar with the investigation, agents are investigating Shiffer’s possible ties to extremist groups, including the Proud Boys — a far-right group whose leaders are accused of helping launch the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Shiffer’s name is used on several social media platforms by an individual who spoke about being at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Authorities declined to comment on whether Shiffer is connected to those accounts.

On the Truth Social platform, which was started by former president Donald Trump, an account with Shiffer’s name published a post at 9:30 a.m. Thursday that seemed to indicate he was writing after attempting to enter the FBI building.

“Well, I thought I had a way through bullet proof glass, and I didn’t,” he wrote. “If you don’t hear from me, it is true I tried attacking the F.B.I., and it’ll mean either I was taken off the internet, the F.B.I. got me, or they sent the regular cops.”

Truth Social did not respond to a request for comment, but Shiffer’s profile appeared to be taken down Thursday evening.

The confrontation comes days after the FBI executed a search warrant at Trump’s Florida estate. Since the search, threats of violence against the FBI from Trump supporters online have increased, and Republicans have intensified criticism of the agency.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) likened the government to “the Gestapo,” and the New York Young Republican Club called for the arrest of those involved in the search. Far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) tweeted “DEFUND THE FBI!!” She added an image of an upside-down U.S. flag, which many on the right have embraced as a symbol of the nation in distress.

In a written statement Thursday as news of the Cincinnati incident unfolded, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray warned against violence and threats directed at law enforcement, and of unfounded attacks on the FBI that undermine the rule of law.

“Violence and threats against law enforcement, including the FBI, are dangerous and should be deeply concerning to all Americans,” he said.

Gina Ligon, who leads National Counterterrorism Innovation, Technology and Education Center, a federally funded research center at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, said she has seen a “brazen” uptick in threats online in the days since the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago.

“The rhetoric that is so loud online right now should be taken very seriously,” she said.

Earlier in the week, the individual using Shiffer’s name on Truth Social posted that he was issuing “a call to arms” hours after the Mar-a-Lago search became public. He encouraged others to “get whatever you need to be ready for combat.” The Post was unable to confirm that the account belonged to Shiffer.

In May, a Twitter user named Ricky Shiffer said he was present at the Capitol on Jan. 6. In a separate reply that day, the user referred approvingly to the Proud Boys, several of whose leaders face charges in the Capitol riot, in response to a comment about the Supreme Court. No one named Ricky Shiffer has been charged in the insurrection.

Residents and businesses within a one-mile radius of Thursday’s standoff scene were told to lock doors and stay vigilant, according to the Clinton County Emergency Management Agency. Television footage showed a man crouched behind a car amid vast, green fields as law enforcement gathered at a distance.

During the incident, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, while announcing that the Justice Department had filed a motion to unseal the Mar-a-Lago search warrant, called ongoing threats to federal agents and prosecutors unfair.

“The men and women of the FBI and the Justice Department are dedicated, patriotic public servants,” he said. “Every day they protect the American people from violent crime, terrorism and other threats to their safety while safeguarding our civil rights. They do so at great personal sacrifice and risk to themselves.”