Oregon District mass shooting survivors ‘reclaim’ area for themselves, community

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

3-year anniversary of deadly mass shooting is Thursday

Jeremy Ganger knew he needed to return to the Oregon District even though it was scary at first.

A bouncer at Ned Pepper’s, he was credited with saving lives as a gunman attacked patrons in Dayton’s Oregon District on Aug. 4, 2019. Nine people were killed, and dozens more were hurt.

“I was working there for over eight-plus years, and for some monster to come down there and take that away from us, it’s something that no one would ever think would happen,” Ganger said.

“It’s important for us as a community to come together and take it back and be able to walk the streets as a community and show that we are united and no one can take that.”

Many survivors of the mass shooting, which happened almost three years ago, will be in the Oregon District on Thursday for an anniversary event. There will be music speakers, but most importantly it will be remembrance and celebration of the nine lives taken during the incident, survivor Dion Green said.

“Even though they are gone, we still uplift their names and their names will never leave our hearts,” he said.

Killed in the shooting were Monica Brickhouse, 39; Nicholas Cumer, 25; Megan Betts, 22; Derrick Fudge, 57; Thomas McNichols, 25; Lois Oglesby, 27; Saheed Saleh, 38; Logan Turner, 30; and Beatrice Warren Curtis, 36.

Green was with his father, 57-year-old Derrick Fudge, of Springfield, when the shooter attacked. In memory of his father, Green, also a Springfield native, started the FUDGE Foundation. He hosts community events and travels to communities in the aftermath of mass shooting events to support those dealing with trauma.

The anniversary event is also about giving survivors a chance to face their fears by returning to the area of Dayton where so many lives were changed forever, Green said. He seldom goes to the Oregon District, but on the anniversary, it’s important to him to be there.

“It hasn’t been the same down there, people are fearful, scared, but in that moment and that day and in those hours, I don’t let fear conquer me or let anything bother me because I reclaim that area and that moment for all the loved ones and the community,” Green said.

Going back to work

Ganger went back to work in the Oregon District about two months after the mass shooting but had to stop because post-traumatic stress disorder.

Now he’s working at Newcom’s, another Oregon District establishment.

“At first, it was scary, the allyway is obviously a place I don’t like to walk by or walk down yet,” he said. “But it’s something that I have to do. I went back and worked there because, as I tell people, if I don’t go back and work there then I let (the gunman) beat me and I’m not going to let somebody like that beat me.”

Credit: Libby Ballengee

Credit: Libby Ballengee

He said he started last year and works Friday and Saturday nights.

“We got to show everybody that this is our area,” Ganger said.

He said he plans to attend Thursday evening’s anniversary event, “Celebrate The 9 Lives,” which is 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and will include special performances from the World House Choir and Luv Locz, featured speakers, nine minutes of silence and a bird release.

“It gives us a chance to all get together and celebrate the nine people that we lost that night,” Ganger said, noting that he honors the victims throughout the year and not just on the anniversary.

Green said the event is important, but some families have struggled to return to the area. He hopes they are able to come this year.



“Lives are being taken at a very alarming rate”

Over the last year, there have been major active shooter events in Uvalde, Texas; Buffalo, New York; and Highland Park, Illinois.

“We are seeing across the country, it doesn’t matter what race or demographic you’re in, we’re seeing lives are being taken at a very alarming rate right now,” Green said.

Ganger said the shootings are far too common.

“We need to come together, not just as a community but as a whole as a world and realize we need to treat each other the way we should be treating each other and just love each other,” he said.

“This whole violence thing and hurting each other, it just needs to stop. Enough is enough.”

He also said people need to speak up and express how they are feeling and not allow sadness or pain to build up inside.

“Find someone, speak up and talk to somebody. We have to let everyone know that it’s OK for a man or a woman to speak up and share how they feel.”

“Celebrate the nine lives” Oregon District mass shooting anniversary event

When: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday

Where: Fifth Street in the Oregon District near Blind Bob’s

Music: World House Choir and Luv Locz

Also includes: Featured Speakers, nine minutes of silence and bird release

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