President, governor, other leaders react to Dayton mass shooting

Elected officials struggled Sunday to react to the horror of a mass shooting that killed nine victims in Dayton’s Oregon District, happening barely half a day after another mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, in which 20 were killed.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine credited Dayton police with acting quickly to stop the gunman — identified by police as Connor Betts, 24, of Bellbrook. Police who were in the Oregon District were able to neutralize Betts on the scene of the shootings.

>>NEW DETAILS: Dayton shooter obsessed with killing, Bellbrook classmates say

“Their amazing courage and their response undoubtedly saved many lives,” DeWine said in a press conference in Dayton. “We will never know how many lives were saved.”

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said the city has been through a lot with the shooting coming just a few months after tornadoes hit the region.

“Dayton has been through more than we ever could have imagined this year,” Whaley said. “In May, 14 tornadoes tore through our community, leaving a long path of destruction. Last night, a mass shooting took nine innocent lives and wounded more than two dozen people.


“We have suffered two tragedies in Dayton this year, but one was avoidable. This same tragedy has been inflicted on our nation 250 times this year alone. When is enough, enough.” Whaley added.

President Donald Trump ordered flags to be flown at half-staff after the shootings in Dayton and Texas.

“The FBI, local and state law enforcement are working together in El Paso and in Dayton, Ohio,” President Donald Trump tweeted early Sunday. “Information is rapidly being accumulated in Dayton.”

Democratic senators want Senate to come back to deal with gun issues

On Sunday, U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called for the Senate to return for summer break to deal with gun violence.

“I hope that (Majority Leader) Sen. McConnell would bring the Senate back tomorrow and pass the background check bill and send it to the president. The president must sign it, period,” U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said. “We could pass the background check bill in an afternoon, and people could get back on a plane and go back to their homes and their children and grandchildren and whatever they’re doing in August in the evening. We could do it that fast.”

>>MORE COVERAGE: Oregon District shooting: What we’ve learned about the victims

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, did not directly address Schumer’s request for the Senate to return.

“These senseless acts of violence must stop. While we are still learning more about the details of this tragedy in Montgomery County, we are praying for the victims and their families and thank the officers who responded so quickly and bravely. I am talking to local leaders and law enforcement officials this morning. First and foremost, let’s get all the facts and help the community heal,” Portman said.

When asked during a press conference in Dayton Sunday about finding legislative solutions to gun violence, Portman said “this requires a comprehensive approach.”

Congressman Mike Turner, R-Dayton, said new laws would not have stopped the shooter.

Turner said the gun bill passed by the House of Representatives would not have prevented the shooting.

Both Turner and Brown called for Congress to act and for bipartisan legislation to be drafted to prevent more mass shootings.

“Congress needs to do something,” Brown said.

“This is an unbelievable amount of evil,” Turner said.

Turner said his daughter had been in the Oregon District Saturday night.

“My daughter & friend fled into #OregonDistrict & contacted me at 2 am. As they ran home, I followed their progress & prayed for them & our community. Thank you to @DaytonPolice for their bravery in stopping this evil,” Turner tweeted.

>>MORE COVERAGE: Dayton Mayor Whaley says Dayton will ‘rise’ after tragedies

“If the Dayton police had not gotten to the shooter in under a minute, hundreds of people in the Oregon District would be dead today,” Whaley said in a press conference early Sunday.

On Sunday, former Ohio Gov. John Kasich said “It’s well past time that our leaders take steps to find sensible solutions to reduce this gun violence.”


Other reaction

Former Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer, now a state lawmaker, said he has never seen anything like this in his career in law enforcement.

“I really want to thank law enforcement,” Plummer said. “They did their jobs. They stopped this guy within a minute, they ran to the gunfire and took care of business. And that’s what we ask out of them.”

When asked about his response as a member of the General Assembly, he said: “We have to really all sit down and have a candid conversation about this. Both sides need to give a little and let’s meet in the middle, because clearly what we are doing now is not working.”

“Our hearts are heavy this Sunday morning as our family joins all Ohioans to mourn the loss of innocent lives from the senseless tragedy in Dayton,” Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder said. “The innocent victims & their families are in our prayers. We commend first responders whose bravery & faithful courage saved lives.”

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said: “Today is a day of sorrow and grief. Darlene and I are praying for the victims and their families. I am grateful for the first responders who acted swiftly to de-escalate the situation – they are true heroes. The resources of my office, including BCI and victim services, stand ready to assist the city of Dayton.”

State Rep. Fred Strahorn, D-Dayton, expressed sympathy for victims.

“While I am sure that no words could ever take away this pain, I want these families to know that the hearts of this community go out to them,” Strahorn said. “I want to commend our police officers for their quick and heroic response in subduing the shooter and the firefighters and EMTs for taking care of the victims. They no doubt saved many lives in doing so.”

State Sen. Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City, who represents most of Dayton in the Ohio Senate, said he is “devastated.”

“My family and I were devastated this morning to learn about the tragedy suffered by the Dayton community, and we are praying for the families experiencing unimaginable loss. I’m grateful for the selfless efforts of our first responders who immediately helped those in need and protected more from being harmed, and I appreciate the Governor making all needed state resources available to the people of Dayton,” Huffman said.

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