Dayton police still probing parade gunshot; experts give advice on talking to kids

Police say they are still investigating a gunshot fired during the Children’s Parade at the Dayton Holiday Festival on Friday but so far they haven’t taken anyone into custody.

“DPD is still seeking the person who fired the shot,” a Dayton Police Department statement read. “If anyone was injured as a result of this incident or if you have any additional information about the fight or the gunshot we ask that you please call the Violent Offenders Unit at (937) 333-1232.”

The parade was halted after the gunshot caused spectators to run away in confusion and fear, and officials say it’s fortunate no one was seriously injured during the commotion.

In a related incident at the Holiday Festival, four juveniles were charged with disorderly conduct, with some facing additional charges, including resisting arrest, misconduct at an emergency, obstructing official business and refusal to disclose personal information at a public place, according to police.

The four juveniles appear to be related or involved with the people who were part of the initial fight.

Many children and families attended the parade and some were traumatized by what they saw and experienced, said Helen Jones-Kelley, executive director of Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS).

Kids and other community members may benefit from professional guidance if they are struggling with trauma or other hardship, she said.

“People react differently to trauma and stress situations,” she said.

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Around 8:11 p.m. Friday, a Dayton police sergeant reportedly saw juveniles fighting and heard a gunshot fired in the area near Second and Main streets.

An initial investigation revealed at least two juvenile females were fighting and a juvenile male fired one shot into the air, Dayton police Assistant Chief Eric Henderson said Friday. A shell casing was recovered at the scene for processing.

“There were several people around that likely know the individuals, so please call,” Henderson said Friday.

The parade, which had started minutes earlier, was canceled as a result of the gunfire.

Some children who attended the parade were shaken up after running away from then-uncertain danger. Some kids trembled, sobbed and hugged their parents and relatives tight after the chaotic scene.

“There will be some people who think nothing of it and will be just fine,” Jones-Kelley said. “And then there will be others, especially as we’re thinking about our smaller children and even their parents, who will be concerned about the event itself and if it’s safe.”

Community members should talk to their friends and family members who were at the holiday festival to make sure they are OK and aren’t facing stress, anxiety and other unwanted feelings, Jones-Kelley said.

Jones-Kelley said these can be difficult conversations, but resources like the “On Our Sleeves” program can help start the dialogue about kids’ mental health. Understanding what actually happened in Friday’s incident could help from some people emotionally recover, Jones-Kelley said.

Some parents said their children were very shaken up and they may not bring their families downtown at night again for a while to try to avoid upsetting or triggering their kids.

According to police, downtown Dayton has a “much lower” crime frequency than the rest of the city.

“There have been nine combined simple and aggravated assaults with a firearm in our central district since January of this year, and not all included a shot being fired,” Dayton Police said. “Significant resources are dedicated to downtown too. Currently there are 22 officers assigned to downtown Dayton.”

Staff writers Allison Swanson and London Bishop contributed to this report.