Main Branch Library re-opens after man shot inside

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Main Branch re-opened on Monday after a man was shot inside of it on Sunday afternoon.

Police said Joseph Steward, 28, shot John Thrasher, 47, in the ankle after an argument near the second-floor elevators on Sunday. Thrasher is in stable condition. 

“Our staff acted professionally and heroically,” said the library’s director of marketing Gregg Dodd. “One of our own security officers did subdue the shooter until police arrived.”

Dodd said Thrasher ran away from Steward leaving a trail of blood on the carpet, which has already been replaced.

In an interview with Steward, investigators said he chased Thrasher through the second floor of the library with his gun out until he was confronted by a library security guard. He then surrendered his weapons and a guard kept him in custody until police arrived.

Dodd said they will review all of their current security protocols to make sure they’re doing everything they can to keep their customers safe.

“We invest a great deal in safety and security. Currently, we have uniformed officers here at Main Library and throughout our system,” he said.

The library’s uniformed officers are not armed and there are no metal detectors inside. There are several surveillance cameras throughout the building.

“Libraries continue to be public gathering spaces that reflect the community and yesterday’s incident was not library related. It could happen in any public place,” said Dodd. “We want everyone to feel safe and comfortable.”

Dodd said the library’s main branch will have an increased security presence for the rest of the week.

Library patrons on Monday said what happened won’t stop them from coming to the main branch.

“It happens. You can’t be safe anywhere these days, although we all try,” said Whitney Millirons. “If you allow yourself to say, ‘I’m not going to go here. I’m not going to go there because there’s a possibility,’ then you wouldn’t go anywhere.”

Kathryn McKee came to the library with her granddaughter, despite hearing about the shooting.

“We’re here because we figured this is a very safe place. The situation seemed to be taken care of in a timely and safe way,” she said. “We aren’t going to let it stop us from moving about Columbus and enjoying our summer.”

Steward waived his court appearance on Monday morning. His bond was set at $350,000. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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