TRAGEDY STRIKES DAYTON

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On August 4, 2019, twenty-four-year-old Connor Betts began firing an AR-15 style assault rifle outside of Ned Peppers in Dayton, Ohio. Betts was at Blind Bob’s, another bar in the Oregon District, prior to the shooting with his sister Megan Betts and their friend Charles Beard. Betts reportedly left Blind Bob’s and headed to Ned Peppers at 12:13 A.M. Nine people were killed including Betts’ sister, and twenty-seven people were injured. Betts was fatally shot by police within 32 seconds of his first shots.

Betts used an AR-15 style assault rifle with two 100-round magazines and was wearing a helmet and a bullet proof vest. The equipment and body armor was purchased by Betts’ friend Ethan Kollie, 24. Kollie lied on federal forms in May in regard to his use of drugs in order to attain the weapon and weapon accessories. Kollie is facing charges for multiple counts of illegally purchasing weapons based on previous instances; however, Kollie is not considered by police to be a conspirator in the shooting.

The shooting lasted from 1:05:35 A.M. to 1:06:07 A.M. Betts fired at people outside of the bar at least forty-one times with police firing sixty-five times. Police have said that Betts’ motive is unclear, and they are not sure whether or not Betts purposely targeted his sister and friend. Unlike the El Paso shooter, there seemed to be no political motivation behind Betts’ actions.

“The materials reviewed thus far reveal that the individual had a history of obsession with violent ideations which include mass shootings and expressed desire to commit a mass shooting,” Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl stated on Tuesday, August 6.

Betts was involved in numerous instances of threatened violence prior to the mass shooting. A High school classmate of his said Betts was suspended for making both a hit list and a rape list. One of the women on the hit list anonymously told reporters that she did not know Betts very well and was surprised to see her name on his list.

“The officer said he wouldn’t be at school for a while. But after some time passed he was back, walking the halls. They didn’t give us any warning that he was returning to school,” she said.

The Betts family released a statement saying they were, “shocked and devastated,” by the events of that Sunday morning. The family also released both Connor and Megan’s obituaries. Connor Betts’ obituary had no mention of the shooting and was considered by the media to be insensitive for that reason. The family promptly apologized for the insensitivity the public pointed out. Betts’ obituary described him as a “funny, articulate and intelligent man with striking blue eyes and a kind smile.”

In the wake of the shooting, the Dayton Foundation has set up The Dayton Oregon District Fund for the victims and their families. Some businesses in Dayton are also making donations to help the victims. Additionally, John Legend went to the Oregon District to support the area and for a surprise concert at Blind Bob’s. He stopped at multiple stores in the district to further show his support for his hometown. There was also a memorial set up outside of Ned Peppers to commemorate the lost victims. In addition to the support from the community, there has been some disorder surrounding the street memorial.

Annette Gibson-Strong, 60, was arrested on August 12 for disorderly conduct for reportedly throwing a chair into the memorial. Gibson-Strong was reported by police as being disruptive previous to her arrest for yelling at people who got too close to the memorial or tried to move parts of the memorial. She was involved in another instance when she was told by the owner of Ned Peppers and Hole In The Wall bars that the memorial would need to be moved. Gibson-Strong sat in front of the memorial and told the owner that it would be disrespectful to move the memorial before all of the victims’ funerals were over. She said she planned to take items from the memorial to the families. Gibson-Strong took it upon herself to make sure the memorial was taken care of because of her son, Antoine Gibson, who died from a gunshot wound in December of 1992. She has no connection to the assailant or the victims of the Oregon District shooting. She said she plans to tend to the memorial until it is removed. Gibson-Strong will not be facing charges after the prosecutor declined to approve her charges.

The nine people killed were Megan Betts (22), Lois Oglesby (27), Saeed Saleh (38), Derrick Fudge (57), Logan Turner (30), Nicolas Cumer (25), Thomas McNichols (25), Beatrice Warren-Curtis (36), and Monica Brickhouse (39).

To help the Dayton community, donations can be sent to the Dayton Foundation’s Oregon District Tragedy Fund.