Four years ago, nine people were killed and more than a dozen wounded when Connor Betts, 24, opened fire in the middle of the Oregon District. Betts was shot and killed by police less than a minute later.
One of Ohio’s deadliest mass shootings, it claimed the lives of Megan Betts, 22; Monica Brickhouse, 39; Nicholas Cumer, 25; Derrick Fudge, 57; Thomas McNichols, 25; Lois Oglesby, 27; Saeed Saleh, 39; Logan Turner, 30; and Beatrice Warren-Curtis, 36.
Dion Green, the founder of the Fudge Foundation named in memory of his father, spoke to a small crowd of people gathered near Ned Peppers.
Tina Rezash Rogal, director of strategic initiatives and communication at Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services, said this year’s event was likely to have a different turnout.
“I think we’re going to see a lot of people in the Oregon District on a Friday night that might not be here for this event who will then join in when they see people here,” Rezash Rogal said. “They might want to come over and see what’s going on and participate in our memorial service.”
The mood of the remembrance also will change over time.
“The further away we get from the actual day, the more these become more of a celebration of the lives we lost,” she said.
It’s important for people to come together in the Oregon District on the anniversary to feel the support from others as they grieve and grow and move forward together, Rezash Rogal said.
“There’s no way that you don’t feel something on this day … and that’s for all community members,” Lt. Col. Eric Henderson, deputy director and assistant chief of the Dayton Police Department, said during a media briefing about the anniversary of Dayton’s dark day.
Six Dayton police officers were at the Oregon District that night who quickly stopped the attack after the shooter fired 41 shots in 30 seconds.
“There was a lot of things done that day to help prevent additional loss of life,” Henderson said.
Henderson said the department has been training for the past 20 years for such a scenario.
“We’re always monitoring what’s going on across the country. … it’s something that we take seriously,” he said, and it’s ongoing.
Command staff and officers participated in active shooter training this summer, with greater integration of fire department medics.
“We’re trying to strengthen the lessons learned from the incident that occurred on Aug. 4, 2019,” Henderson said.
There are plans in place for a permanent memorial to remember the victims of the shooting. A committee that was established to help create that memorial for the victims has selected five semifinalists that have produced proposals for a permanent piece of public artwork.
About 39 artists answered a request for qualifications as part of a national search for an artist or group to create a permanent memorial.
The public art memorial will be installed in the plaza next to the Trolley Stop restaurant and bar at 530 E. Fifth St. Almost immediately after the shooting, Dayton residents, including people who were there that night, talked about the need to “reclaim” the public space on Fifth Street.
“The 8/4 Committee chose the location for this public memorial after hearing directly from our community,” said Sandra Gudorf, co-chair of the 8/4 Memorial. “The responses we received let us know that having a space on Fifth Street was incredibly important for this project. Members of our community wanted a central location where they could reflect, grieve, and heal.”
A final design is expected to be selected soon. The winning artist or group will receive $200,000 to create the public artwork.
“The community has given us a lot of insight on this project so far, and it’s important that they’re included every step of the way,” Sandy Hunt, co-chair of the 8/4 Memorial Committee, said in a prepared statement. “This memorial is for everyone impacted by the 8/4 event, so we are grateful to see the community’s response as this process continues.”