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Cincinnati police increase presence after downtown shootings ahead of busy weekend

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CINCINNATI — With a busy weekend of entertainment activities ahead, Cincinnati police are beefing up their presence while offering reassurances to visitors and residents after shootings in a busy downtown area.

The increased patrols were already evident Wednesday evening, soon after Chief Jeffrey Blackwell told reporters that police were going into "proactive mode" to quell a recent spurt of violence.

"We plan to create a visible, safe presence, not only downtown but throughout the city, starting right now," he said.

Police are increasing foot, bicycle, motorcycle and Segway patrols. Undercover officers are being redeployed, and Citizens on Patrol members are also being used.

Blackwell said statistics show that violent crime and shootings in the city have declined sharply since last year, and pledged that the "outbreak of recklessness" this summer won't be tolerated.

Police said 22-year-old Fonte Williams was arrested Wednesday night and charged with murder in the Monday slaying of Joshua Lamar Taylor, 25. He was shot in the middle of Vine Street during an argument and collapsed at nearby Piatt Park. Three people were shot near the park on Tuesday night, and police said Williams is suspected to be the gunman but that investigation was continuing.

Jail records didn't show attorney information.

The shootings in an area with a hotel, the public library and several restaurants and other businesses raised safety concerns.

Tens of thousands of downtown visitors are expected this weekend as Cincinnati hosts its annual Bunbury Music Festival over three days on six stages, and the Cincinnati Reds expect big crowds for a weekend series with the Pittsburgh Pirates that includes a Saturday evening giveaway of bobbleheads featuring young star Billy Hamilton.

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