Detective William Lee Brewer
Served: 20¼ years
October 19, 1998 to February 2, 2019
Bill was born January 14, 1977 to William Lee and Angie Brewer, Sr. He attended Williamsburg High School and became one of the top athletes in the area. Starting his sophomore year, designated as a defensive back on the varsity team, the coach decided after losing his first two games to change to a run-and-shoot offense with Bill as quarterback. He ended up passing for almost 1200 yards in their first eight games and he excelled through his senior year. As a sophomore, the Associate Press gave him an honorable mention in the Region’s Division V All District Teams competition. As a junior, he was named quarterback of the Division VI First Team. He was also an outstanding basketball and baseball player. He graduated in 1996 and was later inducted into the Williamsburg High School sports Hall of Fame.
Bill joined the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office on October 19, 1998. He was assigned to road patrol on December 29, 2015 when, while trying to arrest a Theft suspect who was resisting, he was struck by a car traveling about 30 miles per hour. He was hospitalized but returned to full duty. On May 15, 2017, Deputy Brewer was awarded a Merit/Bravery Award by the Clermont Chamber of Commerce Foundation. On December 3, 2018, Deputy Brewer was transferred to the Investigations Section. By 2019, Detective Brewer had served Clermont County for 20 Years.
Wade Edward Winn was born September 12, 1995 to parents of Saint Bernard. He attended the School of Creative and Performing Arts in Cincinnati.
We are unaware of his juvenile record, but as an adult he started out at 19-years-old with misdemeanor marijuana convictions. A couple of years later, he was charged with Robbery in Hamilton County, but the Grand Jury did not indict him. He was arrested in May 2018 on charges of carrying a concealed weapon, drug possession, and driving with a suspended license, but those charges were also dropped. He was convicted in August 2018 on a charge of improperly handling firearms in motor vehicle, but that is a misdemeanor and did not prohibit him from possessing firearms.
Pierce Township officers were dispatched for a welfare check at 6:56 p.m. on Saturday, February 2, 2019 to Winn’s apartment on St. Andrews Drive. He had called 9-1-1 and stated that there was a man inside who refused to leave, that he had weapons in the apartment, and that he was suicidal. Officers from multiple agencies responded. Initially, officers were unable to make contact with the caller. After the fact, it seems likely that Winn had hoped that officers would force entry to check on his welfare. When they did not, at 8:15 p.m. he fired shots from inside his apartment. Pierce Township Police Department personnel requested that the multiagency Clermont County Special Response Team (SRT) respond.
The SRT responded at 9:25 p.m. under the command of Clermont County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Nicholas DeRose. They negotiated with Winn, who was likely on drugs and was ‘live’ on Instagram during the negotiation.
Winn then set up an ambush. At 10:37 p.m., after talking of suicide, a single gunshot was heard again. Officers heard gurgling sounds, then silence. They were forced to decide between letting him die or possibly falling for a dangerous ruse. Doing nothing is not an option. They chose to enter and provide emergency medical assistance. As they did, Winn, who had positioned himself in another room, fired a fusillade of bullets through a wall on their flank in an attempt to kill the deputies. Detective Brewer and Lieutenant Nicholas DeRose were hit. Detective Brewer was hit twice; once in the lower leg and the other just below his ballistic vest.
Officers on the scene broadcast, “Officer down! Officer down!” They rushed in, pulled Detective Brewer to safety, covered him, and yelled, “Bill, stay with us! Bill, stay with us!” Officers requested that Air Care respond, but they were unable due to the weather. Emergency medical personnel transported him to Mercy Hospital in Anderson where he died from his injuries – becoming the only Clermont County Sheriff’s Deputy to be murdered in the line of duty.
Lieutenant DeRose was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center where he was treated and later released.
Gunshots continued throughout the night and into the early morning hours. With a man down and their commander in the hospital, SRT personnel reached out to recently retired SRT Commander Douglas Ventre. Ventre arrived at the scene and the deputies continued to try to talk with the suspect and fired tear gas canisters into the apartment. They were met with more gunfire.
In the seventh hour of the standoff, Commander Ventre assessed the situation and the condition of his team and called Cincinnati Assistant Police Chief Paul Neudigate and asked for Cincinnati Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team assistance.
Shots continued to be fired as late at 5 a.m. The combined teams mounted a ram extension onto an armored vehicle and pushed it through a window of the apartment. Intense gunfire came from the apartment, sending SRT and SWAT personnel scurrying for cover behind the armored vehicle. With bullets bouncing off the armored vehicle and around the personnel, officers continued to take down portions of the wall until they could see Winn was hiding behind a mattress. They could not shoot him because they did not know exactly where he was or whether he had a hostage with him, so they lobbed in more tear gas and pepper balls.
Then a fire started, and Winn worked to turn it into a full-grown blaze, probably as a distraction. He then leaped from the building and into the custody of awaiting deputies at 6:36 a.m.
Anderson Township Fire Department firefighters rushed in to extinguish the blaze, but it grew to a two-alarm fire and destroyed most of the apartment and a lot of evidence.
The Ohio State Fire Marshal has been asked to investigate the fires. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI) will investigate the criminal offenses.
Detective Brewer is survived by his wife of 13 years, Jamie (Hensley) Brewer; son, Braxton Brewer (5); parents, William and Angie Brewer; brother, Michael Brewer; and parents-in-law, James and Mary Noll.
A procession of police vehicles from many jurisdictions escorted Detective Brewer from the Mercy Hospital to the Hamilton County Morgue for an autopsy. Another similar procession, later in the morning, took him to E. C. Nurre Funeral Home in Amelia. Hundreds lined the route along the way.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, on Sunday, February 3, 2019, ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus and Clermont County to honor Brewer’s service until sunset the day of his interment. Many Greater Cincinnati businesses and homes have lowered their flags as well.
A public visitation was held 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, February 7, 2019 at Mt. Carmel Christian Church in Batavia. In a church large enough to hold only 1500 people, more than 7000, including more than 1500 uniformed law enforcement officers, visited his remains. Funeral services were held at 11 a.m. on Friday, February 8, 2019. A cortege followed taking Detective Brewer to Pierce Township Cemetery and, again, the route was lined with hundreds of grieving citizens, many carrying American flags. At the cemetery, his final ride was aboard a horse-drawn caisson provided by the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.
A “Bill Brewer Memorial Fund” has been established at the Park National Bank, 1187 Ohio Pike, Amelia, OH 45102 to which people could make memorial donations.
Winn was held overnight without bond at the Clermont County jail on charges of Aggravated Murder and Attempted Aggravated Murder. He appeared at 10 a.m. in Clermont County Municipal Court and denied the charges. Chief Assistant Clermont County Prosecutor Darren Miller advised they would seek the death penalty. Winn was represented by Attorney Ravert J. Clark. Judge Kevin T. Miles set bond at $10 Million. He set a preliminary hearing for February 13, 2019.
If you know of any information, artifacts, archives, or images regarding this officer or incident, please contact the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum at Memorial@Police-Museum.org.
© This narrative was researched, created, and on February 8, 2019 revised by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society Vice President. All rights are reserved to him and the Greater Cincinnati Police Musuem.