Loss of life in Dayton shooting could’ve been ‘catastrophic’ if gunman not stopped

9 dead, 27 injured in Sunday morning shooting
Updated: Aug. 4, 2019 at 5:08 PM EDT
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DAYTON, Ohio (FOX19) - Police say nine people were killed and 27 injured in a shooting early Sunday morning in downtown Dayton.

Authorities responded to the Oregon District on E. Fifth Street in downtown Dayton around 1 a.m.

The suspect, Connor Betts, 24, of Dayton, wearing body armor opened fire with a .223 caliber rifle, according to Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.

Chief Richard Biehl said the rifle held a 100 double-round drum magazine.

That particular weapon was ordered online from Texas but transferred to the suspect at a local dealer in the area, he said.

“There is no indication that that is illegal at this time,” he said.

He also had extra-high capacity magazines, said Dayton Assistant Police Chief Matt Carper.

The suspect was wearing a mask, bulletproof vest and ear protection, according to Biehl.

Investigators are still working to determine a motive and how many shots were fired, he said.

“Any suggestion of motive would be irresponsible - we do not have sufficient information,” Biehl said. “Dozens of rounds were fired, but there’s no absolute count at this point.”

Responding Dayton police killed the gunman within a minute of the first shots being fired, the mayor said.

"Hundreds of people in the Oregon District could be dead today” if police hadn’t acted quickly, she said: “I’m still just completely amazed with the heroic actions of our police department.”

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Police said they were able to take the gunman down so quickly because officers already were in the immediate vicinity.

Biehl said officers patrolling the district heard the gunfire erupt and immediately advanced towards it. Withing 20 seconds, they engaged the suspect and the threat was neutralized approximately 30 seconds after Betts fired his first shots.

All six responding officers fire at least one round at the suspect, he said.

“The five officers and one sergeant were placed on administrative leave, as is standard protocol,” Biehl said.

Dayton police identified the suspect of the Sunday morning downtown mass shooting as...
Dayton police identified the suspect of the Sunday morning downtown mass shooting as 24-year-old Connor Betts of Bellbrook.(Provided)

Sinclair Community College confirms that Betts was previously enrolled as a student though was not actively enrolled this summer term.

Brad Howard, a longtime classmate of Betts, was shocked that he was at the center of a mass shooting. “The Connor Betts that I talked to always got along with well. And if you’re looking for any kind of slander or any kind of down talk, you’re not going to get that from me,” Howard said.

Police confirm that one of the nine shooting victims was Betts’ sister, Megan, 22.

According to Biehl, the suspect, his sister Megan and a companion arrived in the Oregon District in the same vehicle, but at some point separated.

He said Megan was not the first victim, but one of the initial victims.

MORE | Victims identified in Dayton mass shooting

Megan was the youngest victim; the oldest was 57.

No officers were injured.

The Cincinnati office of the FBI also on the scene assisting with the investigation.

A vigil is planned for 8 p.m. Sunday on Fifth Street in the Oregon District.

Mayor Whaley described the Oregon District is one of the safest places in the whole region and said it will reopen later Sunday.

She said several mayors have reached out to her.

“What’s really shocking to me is just the number of people who have personal experience with this going on in their communities. It’s sad to me that Dayton is one of those communities as well,” said Mayor Whaley.

A witness described the chaos to the Associated Press. Anthony Reynolds says he and his friends were leaving a bar in the Oregon District around 1 a.m. Sunday when they heard the first gunshot.

He says the gunfire was "rapid" after that and "people were just falling."

The 31-year-old Reynolds says he got a glimpse of the shooter, who he says was dressed in all black and carrying a large gun.

Ned Peppers, a bar in the Oregon District, said in a Facebook post that the shooter started down road and made his way towards the business.

“We have police regularly staffed next to our business who engaged the shooter and neutralized the threat.”

Biehl said Betts was neutralized outside the front door of Ned Peppers.

“Had this individual made it through the doorway there would’ve been catastrophic injury and loss of life,” he said.

Ned Peppers, a bar in Dayton's Oregon District, said in a Facebook post that the shooter...
Ned Peppers, a bar in Dayton's Oregon District, said in a Facebook post that the shooter started down the street and the headed toward their business.

Officials with Miami Valley Hospital said they treated 16 patients, including one still in critical condition, three were admitted and 12 released.

Most of the victims suffered from gunshot wounds. Some had injuries because they were trying to escape the shooter, they said.

Grandview Medical Center has three patients in serious condition and three in fair condition.

Officials with Kettering Health Network said they had 12 patients with six still being treated. Injuries ranged from gunshot wounds to the lower extremity and abdominal wounds.

Anyone who has information on shooting is being asked to call either 937-333-COPS or a hotline 937-225-6217 to assist authorities with the investigation.

If you have any videos or images of the scene or anything that may be of value, you’re asked to share them with the FBI.

There also is a hotline for family seeking information about loved ones:

Gov. Mike DeWine released the following statement about the Dayton shooting:

"Fran and I are absolutely heartbroken over the horrible attack that occurred this morning in Dayton. We join those across Ohio and this country in offering our prayers to victims and their families. I have spoken with Mayor Nan Whaley and offered any assistance on behalf of the state. I have been briefed by the Ohio Department of Public Safety, and the Ohio State Highway Patrol has offered assistance to local law enforcement as they investigate this heinous act. I commend Dayton Police and other first responders for their bravery and quick response to save lives and bring an end to this tragedy.

“I have ordered that flags in Ohio remain at half mast (sic) in honor and memory of the victims who lost their lives this morning.”

DeWine says he spoke with President Donald Trump about the shooting and expressed his thanks that the FBI has been helping out local law enforcement.

The president also tweeted about Dayton and Saturday’s mass shooting in El Paso, Texas saying, “God bless the people of El Paso Texas. God bless the people of Dayton, Ohio.”

Trump has ordered lowering the flags to half-staff at all federal government buildings in honor of the victims.

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, who represents the Dayton area, says his daughter and a friend were across the street when the shooting began.

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown says he and his wife are filled with sadness for the victims and their families and gratitude for the police officers who responded to the scene and the medical professionals caring for the injured.

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman says he’s praying for the victims and their families and thanked the officers who responded so quickly and bravely. He urged everyone to get the facts and help the community heal.

State Sen. Cecil Thomas, D-Cincinnati, took to Twitter to express frustration over what he described as a lack of action at the statehouse to curtail gun violence.

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