Surveillance video from the Fifth Third Bank headquarters near the city's Fountain Square shows the gunman, identified by police as 29-year-old Omar Perez from Northbend, Ohio, walking methodically through the building.
The shooting began shortly after 9 a.m.
The motive of the shooter, whose identity has not been released, was not known.
Leonard Cain was entering the bank when someone alerted him to the shooting. "He was actively shooting innocent victims", the mayor added. "And I'm thinking about how I can make a difference in the future", Austin said.
"A very horrific situation", Isaac said at the scene.
Perez packed a 9 mm handgun and eye-popping quantities of ammunition for his rampage at the Fifth Third Center - "in the neighborhood of maybe 200 rounds", Isaac said.
"We as a country have to figure out how to end it", Cranley said.
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"All he had to do was look over at the counter at us and we would have been shot", she added.
"She walked in the door and he shot her", Cain said.
Officials said they stopped an active shooter in downtown Cincinnati after engaging him in a gun battle.
The three men killed were Luis Felipe Calderon, 48; Pruthvi Raj Kandepi, 25; and Richard Newcomer, 64, according to Dylan Wical of the the Hamilton County Coroner's office.
"Oh, no, no, no, no", the woman said as she slumped against the wall and spoke to Santa Perez's sister, the paper reported.
The police chief said he could not say whether the gunman shot himself in addition to being shot by gunfire from "at least three or four" police officers. Two others were hospitalized.
It is now unclear if the gunman shot himself or was killed by officers.
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"This is a shock that none of us could have ever expected and we're focused on praying for his family and getting through this", Cotter said.
The 911 center received "hundreds of calls" reporting the shooting, the emergency dispatcher said.
Michael Richardson was outside on a smoke break when he said he heard gunshots coming from the bank lobby.
The gunman was among dozens of people visiting stores, business offices, hotels and eateries in Fountain Square on Thursday morning.
Police completed their search of the crime scene around 11 a.m.
"Then we knew what was going on", Hanson said.
The Enquirer said some customers hid inside a bathroom at the bank, and one gunshot victim was found inside a nearby ice cream shop.
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