Dayton, Ohio shooting: Gunmans sister among nine killed
At least 9 people have died after a gunman opened fire in a popular entertainment district in Dayton, Ohio. Police say the shooter is dead. USA TODAY
DAYTON, Ohio – A lone gunman in body armor opened fire early Sunday in a “very safe,” historic entertainment district, killing at least nine people and igniting chaos in the crowded outdoor area before he was fatally shot by police seconds later, authorities said.
Police identified the shooter as Connor Betts, 24, of nearby Bellbrook. The names of those killed also were released and included Betts’ 22-year-old sister, Megan. More than two dozen people were injured.
“Hundreds of people in the Oregon District could be dead today” if police hadn’t acted so quickly, Mayor Nan Whaley said. She said the city would conduct a vigil Sunday night.
Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl said officers patrolling the area heard gunshots and saw people running. They engaged Betts, who was armed with an assault-style rifle, within 20 seconds, and he was “neutralized” approximately 30 seconds after he fired his first shot, Biehl said.
Biehl said it was too soon to determine a motive for the shooting. He released video showing the pandemonium as people fled and officers moved in when the shooter approached Ned Peppers Bar before going down.
“Had this individual made it through the doorway of Ned Peppers with that level of weaponry, there would have been a catastrophic injury and loss of life,” Biehl said.
Assistant Chief of Police Matt Carper said security footage in the area was being studied and hundreds of witnesses were being interviewed. The FBI was joining the investigation, he said. The gunman appeared to have acted alone in his assault on the trendy stretch of bars and restaurants, Carper said.
“Downtown Dayton is a very safe area,” Carper said. “This is unheard of and very sad. It’s a very tragic evening.”
Whaley lauded police for their quick response. “In less than a minute, Dayton first responders neutralized the shooter,” she said. “This is a terribly sad day for the city, but I am amazed by the (police) response.”
Witnesses described a chaotic, bloody scene as people struggled to comprehend what was happening and then scrambled for cover.
“All of a sudden we heard what sounded like fireworks,” said Morgan Olivia Beck, 22, who was drinking with friends on the balcony of a nearby tavern when the shooting started. “But they wouldn’t stop.”
When it was over, bodies were strewn across the street and sidewalk. Shoes from fleeing bar patrons were scattered in a parking lot. The gunman was white; six of those killed were black.
Nikita Papillion, 23, said she was dancing at Ned Peppers Bar when the shooting started. She fled the building, running past people who had been shot.
“There were two bodies to the right; six steps away there was a third girl on the ground,” Papillion said. She said she did not know the girl but had complimented her outfit earlier that night.
Brandon White, 29, leaned on the hood of his car near a police barricade. He said his aunt called, saying his cousin was among those shot.
“Me and my mom rushed down here, and we’re just waiting to hear something,” he said. “There are cops all over the place down here on the weekend. He must have had a death wish or something.”
Bellbrook Police Chief Doug Doherty said Betts’ parents were “floored” by the news.
“We don’t know the why. We don’t know the whats, any of those questions,” Doherty said. “But we do know that there is a mom and dad down there that are really hurting.”
Hours after tweeting out condolences to families of victims in El Paso, President Donald Trump tweeted that the FBI was aiding the investigations in El Paso and Dayton. He lauded the efforts of first responders in both cities and ordered flags flown at half staff to honor the victims.
“God bless the people of El Paso Texas,” he tweeted. “God bless the people of Dayton, Ohio.”
#OregonDistrict#update We had officers in the immediate vicinity when this shooting began and were able to respond and put an end to it quickly.
The Dayton wounded were rushed to several areas hospitals, and one was listed in critical condition. The dead included four women and five men: Lois Oglesby, 27; Saeed Salah, 33; Logan Turner, 30; Nicholas Cumer, 25; Thomas McNichols, 25; Beatrice Warren-Curtis, 36; Monica Brickhouse, 39; and Derrick Fudge, 57.
Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted graduated from the University of Dayton and represented the city as a lawmaker. “Over the years I have been to the Oregon District in many times. To see this happen there is devastating,” he tweeted.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said in he was “heartbroken” over the attack.
“We join those across Ohio and this country in offering our prayers to victims and their families,” he said.
God bless the people of El Paso Texas. God bless the people of Dayton, Ohio.