A gunman in body armor opened fire early Sunday in a popular entertainment district in Dayton, Ohio, killing nine people, including his sister, and wounding dozens of others before he was quickly slain by police, city officials said.
Connor Betts, 24, was killed by police less than a minute after he started shooting a .223-caliber rifle in the streets of Dayton’s historic Oregon District at about 1 am in the second US mass shooting in less than 24 hours.
His 22-year-old sister Megan, the youngest of the dead, were all killed in the same area, police said.
The other men and women were identified as: Lois Ogelsby, 27; Saeed Seleh, 38; Derrick Fudge, 57; Logan Turner, 30; Nicholas Cumer, 25; Thomas McNichols, 25; Beatrice Warren Curtis, 36; and 39-year-old Monica Brickhouse.
Police issued a search warrant on Betts’ home earlier on Sunday and are still trying to establish a motive.
Though several African-American men and women were killed during the attack, police said they haven’t found any indications that the shooting was racially or politically motivated.
However, police did find writings that suggest Betts had an interest in killing people.
Ogelsby had just had her second child in June. Several photos on her Facebook page show the young mother cradling her baby girl, Reign.
She also had another young daughter.
Derasha Merrett, a close childhood friend, told Dayton Daily News that Ogelsby had recently returned to work after taking maternity leave.
Merrett said that while Ogelsby was working at a daycare, she was also taking classes at nursery school, where she hoped to work in a profession where she could show her love for children.
‘She was a wonderful mother, a wonderful person,’ Merrett said.
‘I have cried so much, I can’t cry anymore.’
Merrett said the Oregon District where the shooting took place usually has a large police presence.
‘We never ever would have thought this type of thing would happen right here in our city,’ she said.
‘A lot of people like to go down to the Oregon District because they feel safe.
‘All of the police that stay down there, they didn’t see that man with an AR-15? Come on.’
Nicholas Cumer was a graduate student in the master of cancer care program at Saint Francis University in Pennsylvania.
He had completed his undergraduate work at the university as an exercise physiology major.
The university’s president, Fr. Malachi Van Tassell, released a statement explaining that Cumer had been in Dayton ‘as part of his internship program with the Maple Tree Cancer Alliance’.
‘Nicholas was dedicated to caring for others. He was recognized at the 2019 Community Engagement Awards among students who had completed 100+ hours of service.
‘In addition, he was a graduate assistant with the university marching band. We join the nation in mourning Nicholas, alongside all of the victims of this tragedy,’ the statement reads.
‘Our thoughts and prayers are with their family and friends during this most difficult time. A Mass in Nicholas’ memory will be arranged on campus this week, and we will share other arrangements as we learn of them.’
The university is also providing counseling services for community members. The Counseling Office may be reached at 814-472-3211.
Thomas McNichols was known as ‘TeeJay’ to his close friends and family members.
He was remembered on Sunday as ‘a great father, a great brother — he was a protector,’ his cousin, Jevin Lamar, told The New York Times.
McNichols would often play kickball at family gatherings, according to Lamar.
A bereaved relative wrote on Facebook: ‘This is TOO MUCH. Rest peacefully my Angel TeeJay James.’
‘[M]y cousin did NOT deserve this at all.
‘The provider, the protector, & the rock.
‘Damn my cousins don’t deserve to mourn the loss of their brother, he was all they had.
‘This life we live is so unfair.
‘Please pray for my family peace, comfort and understanding.’
Donna Johnson, McNichols’s aunt, remembered her late nephew as a ‘gentle giant.’
‘He was so tall and a lot of folks thought he was older than he really was,’ she told Dayton Daily News.
McNichols was living with Johnson in the Westwood section of Dayton. He returned home from work on Saturday and ate Twizzlers candy with his aunt.
He then left with his cousin to the Oregon District.
After midnight, Johnson received a phone call from her niece telling her to quickly go toward East Fifth Street.
‘Everybody loved him. He was like a big kid,’ Johnson said.
‘When all of the movies come out – Batman, Black Panther – he would get all his nephews and take them to the movies.’
McNichols is survived by four children – two girls and two boys whose ages range from two to eight.
Derrick Fudge was out with his family in the Oregon District on Saturday night, his sister told Dayton Daily News.
Fudge was enjoying a night out in Dayton with his son, his son’s fiancee, and several others.
‘They were all just down there enjoying themselves and had stepped out of, I think, one of the clubs and were in a line to get some food,’ Twyla Southall said.
Southall, who lives in Columbus, which is about an hour’s drive away, received a phone call late at night.
‘His son is very distraught,’ Southall said.
She said her brother loved his family, which included a dog named Lucy.
‘He was a good man and loved his family,’ Southall said.
Monica Brickhouse and Beatrice Curtis
Monica Brickhouse was among the first victims to be identified. She leaves behind a six-year-old son.
According to a friend, Brickhouse was with her friend, Curtis, when they were both killed.
Logan Turner was remembered by his mother as the ‘world’s best son,’ according to Dayton Daily News.
Danita Turner said that Logan was both ‘sweet and smart.’
‘He was very generous and loving and the world’s best son,’ she said.
‘Everyone loved Logan. He was a happy go lucky guy.’
A native of Springboro, Ohio, Logan completed his studies at Sinclair Community College.
He then attended the University of Toledo, where he obtained an engineering degree.
Turner also took classes at Wright State University.
His mother said that Turner recently began a job as a machinist with Thaler Machine Co. in Springboro.
The neighborhood where the shooting took place is home to bars, restaurants, and theaters, is ‘a safe part of downtown,’ said police Lt Col Matt Carper.
Dayton mayor Nan Whaley said the shooter was wearing body armor and had additional high-capacity magazines. Had police not responded so quickly, ‘hundreds of people in the Oregon District could be dead today,’ she said.
Whaley said at least 27 people were treated for injuries, and at least 15 of those have been released.
Several more remain in serious or critical condition, hospital officials said at a news conference.
Some suffered multiple gunshot wounds and others were injured as they fled, the officials said.
Police haven’t released further information about Betts or publicly discussed a motive.
One witness described hearing one gunshot and then a second one, which is believed to be when Betts shot his sister and her boyfriend.
The witness said after the second shot the fire was ‘rapid’ and several people started to run.
Nikita Papillon, 23, was across the street at Newcom’s Tavern when the shooting started. She said she saw a girl she had talked to earlier lying outside Ned Peppers Bar.
‘She had told me she liked my outfit and thought I was cute, and I told her I liked her outfit and I thought she was cute,’ Papillon said.
She herself had been to Ned Peppers the night before, describing it as the kind of place ‘where you don’t have to worry about someone shooting up the place.’
‘People my age, we don’t think something like this is going to happen,’ she said. ‘And when it happens, words can’t describe it.’
Tianycia Leonard, 28, was in the back, smoking, at Newcom’s. She heard ‘loud thumps’ that she initially thought was someone pounding on a dumpster.
‘It was so noisy, but then you could tell it was gunshots and there was a lot of rounds,’ Leonard said.
The staff of an Oregon District bar called Ned Peppers said in a Facebook post that they were left shaken and confused by the shooting. The bar said a bouncer was treated for shrapnel wounds.
A message seeking further comment was left with staff.
President Donald Trump was briefed on the shooting and praised law enforcement’s speedy response in a tweet Sunday.
Gov. Mike DeWine issued his own statement, announcing that he ordered flags in Ohio remain at half-staff and offering assistance to Whaley and prayers for the victims.
Whaley said she has been in touch with the White House, though not Trump directly, and with DeWine. She said more than 50 other mayors also have reached out to her.
The FBI is assisting with the investigation.
A family assistance center was set up at the Dayton Convention Center, where people seeking information on victims arrived in a steady trickle throughout the morning.
Some local pastors were on hand to offer support, as were comforted dogs.
The Ohio shooting came hours after Patrick Crusius, 21, allegedly opened fire in a crowded El Paso, Texas, Walmart, leaving 20 dead and more than two dozen injured.
Just days before, on July 28, 19-year-old William Legan shot and killed three people, including two children, at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Northern California.
Sunday’s shooting in Dayton is the 22nd mass killing of 2019 in the US, according to the AP/USA Today/Northeastern University mass murder database that tracks homicides where four or more people were killed – not including the offender.
The 20 mass killings in the US in 2019 that preceded this weekend claimed 96 lives.
Whaley said the Oregon District is expected to reopen Sunday afternoon, and a vigil is planned for Sunday evening at 8 pm.
The shooting in Dayton comes after the area was heavily damaged when tornadoes swept through western Ohio in late May, destroying or damaging hundreds of homes and businesses.
‘Dayton has been through a lot already this year, and I continue to be amazed by the grit and resiliency of our community,’ Whaley said.
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