DAYTON — Tears and resolve engulfed Dayton on Sunday in the hours after a gunman killed nine people, including his sister, in a 24-second barrage of gunfire outside bars and restaurants in the city’s historic Oregon District.
Dayton police responded within a minute and shot and killed the gunman — a young man wearing a mask, ear protection and ballistic vest, and armed with a .223-caliber, high-capacity rifle and 100-round magazines of ammunition.
The mass shooting rocked a country already reeling from a similar attack that killed 20 people and wounded more than two dozen others at a Walmart store 13 hours earlier in El Paso, Texas.
By Sunday afternoon, determination was on the face of Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, as well as the city’s police chief, mourners at a prayer vigil, and residents in the Oregon District. They sought to embrace and support one another, and to recover from the untold pain evidenced by pools of blood that had transformed an entertainment district into a horrific crime scene.
“This is a resilient and gritty city,” Whaley said. “I use those terms affectionately.”
Beyond the dead outside Ned Peppers Bar, another 27 were injured and one remained in critical condition late Sunday, officials said.
Security-camera videos of the shooting obtained by police included the sound of dozens of shots being fired and showed a police officer shooting the gunman within 20 seconds of encountering him.
One of the nine dead was identified as Megan Betts, 22, the sister of suspected shooter Connor Betts.
Dayton Police Chief Richard S. Biehl said the initial response of a sergeant and five officers saved many lives in the Oregon District.
“It was crucial. Had this individual made it through the entrance of Ned Peppers, there would have been catastrophic injury and loss of life.”
None of the six officers who responded was injured.
Connor Stephen Betts, 24, of Bellbrook, a suburb of about 7,300 people southeast of Dayton, his sister, and another male companion had come to the district earlier that evening. At some point, they separated and Connor Betts retrieved the weapon he brought, but authorities aren’t saying how that occurred.
At 1:05 a.m., Connor Betts opened fire, Biehl said.
Biehl said that Megan Betts, who was walking with her brother’s friend, was one of the first to be killed on the street. The male companion also was hit but will survive.
“There is far too much information to go through before we can even begin to talk about a motive,” Biehl said, who said there is nothing at this point to suggest a motive.
Biehl said the gun used in the killings was originally from Texas and that Betts obtained it from a local gun dealer, and there was nothing in the gunman’s background that would have precluded him from legally buying the gun.
The shooting began at Jackson and Fifth streets outside Ned Peppers Bar in the Oregon District, a historic neighborhood with trendy restaurants, bars and homes.
Police officers were able to respond so quickly because a number of them patrol the area regularly, some on special duty. Officers fired multiple shots to stop the shooter, said Lt. Col. Matt Carper, Dayton assistant chief of police and deputy director.
“This was completely preventable,” Whaley said. “When is enough enough?”
“This is sad it seems to be more of the norm than not. It’s just difficult,” Bellbrook Police Chief Doug Doherty said.
Carper promised further details would be released later. He would not answer a question about whether the parents of the shooter and his sister were cooperating with the investigation.
All nine of the victims were shot at the Oregon District location, Carper said.
The other victims were identified as: Lois L. Oglesby, 27; Saeed Saleh, 38; Derrick R. Fudge, 57; Logan M. Turner, 30; Nicholas P. Cumer, 25; Thomas J. McNichols, 25; Beatrice N. Warren-Curtis, 36, and Monica E. Brickhouse, 39.
Devin Reed of Dayton said he entered Ned Peppers Bar at 1 a.m. as part of the celebration of his 21st birthday, and while he said he had downed a few drinks, there was no mistaking what he heard and saw: A barrage of bullets came crashing through bar.
A “stampede” of customers ran to the door to escape, but Reed said he took a different course.
“I jumped behind the counter and hid behind the bar,” Reed said.
He said he crouched in a fetal position as the bullets flew overhead into shelves, shattering bottles above him. And then, suddenly, it was over, Reed said, as police officers came into the bar and escorted him out.
He wasn’t physically harmed, but “for sure, for sure, I was definitely shaken up,” Reed said.
Gov. Mike DeWine toured the Oregon District shooting scene with his wife Sunday morning.
DeWine credited the quick action of Dayton police officers for saving many lives.
“We’ll never know how many lives were saved. It could have been dozens,” DeWine said. “I have to thank the first responders and the Dayton Police Department for an amazing job.”
DeWine would not respond to questions about what the state’s response should be to another mass shooting that has claimed many lives and what could be done to prevent such a situation in the future.
“This is not the time for that. Let’s get the facts first,” DeWine said.
Family members of victims were sent to the Dayton Convention Center to receive information.
President Donald Trump was briefed on the shooting and praised law enforcement’s speedy response in a tweet Sunday morning and later during an impromptu news conference. He sent his condolences to the people of El Paso and Dayton.
“Hate has no place in our country,” Trump said, adding that “we’re going to take care of it” without detail, other than to say that he had talked with congressional leaders and the governors of Ohio and Texas about it.
Whaley, Dayton's mayor, said the city is rallying, just like it has since a series of tornadoes ravaged the area on Memorial Day.
Paul and Rebecca Sinopoli walked up to the police scene tape blocking access to the corner of Fifth and Brown streets, carrying a bouquet of nine roses in honor of the nine victims who died.
The Sinopolis, from the Dayton suburb of Oakwood, wanted to pay respects to their community.
“I’m grateful my son was home,” Rebecca Sinopoli said. “But we’re not going to let fear destroy the revitalization of our community.”
Her husband explained that the couple is originally from Denver, and the Columbine shootings that seemed to kick off a wave of mass shootings across the U.S. were on in his mind.
“I never thought Dayton would be a place where this happens,” Paul Sinopoli said.