One of Dayton’s treasured annual events, the Dayton Holiday Festival, was marking its 50th anniversary Friday night when a gunshot rang out, sending people running to safety and ending the Children’s Parade minutes after it started.
No one was injured, but witnesses and videos from the scene underscored the panic the incident caused.
Here’s what we know now.
Fight among teens
A Dayton police sergeant on duty saw juveniles fighting and heard the shot fired in the area near Second and Main streets at 8:11 p.m.
Assistant Chief Eric Henderson said Friday night initial information revealed at least two juvenile females were fighting, and a juvenile male pulled out a weapon, firing into the air.
A video posted on social media by a Dayton woman shows two females fighting and a group of people trying to break it up when a gun is pointed in the air and fired once.
As of Friday night, police said no one had been arrested. Henderson and Dayton Mayor Jeffrey Mims asked for the public’s help in identifying those involved.
Big crowd came out
The annual Grande Illumination earlier in the evening and the parade had attracted a big crowd, likely in part because of good weather and a post-pandemic desire for people to see one of the city’s major events.
“We are very disappointed that we weren’t able to complete the parade, but we do commend the police,” said Sandra K. Gudorf, president of the Downtown Dayton Partnership, which organizes the event each year.
This was the 50th anniversary of the event, and Gudorf said Friday night’s crowd was one of largest in years.
”One of the larger crowds I have seen in a long, long time,” Gudorf said.
The parade had started minutes before people heard the gunshot and many started running down Main Street toward Fourth Street.
Investigation and charges
One shell casing was recovered at the scene and was being processed by police, Henderson said Friday night. He noted more than 30 officers were stationed downtown for the special event.
Officers said the gun was a handgun, but would not comment more on it. One potential charge could include inducing panic because of the crowd.
”There were several people around that likely know the individuals, so please call,” Henderson said.
Callers can dial 937-333-COPS or call anonymously through the Miami Valley Crime Stoppers line at 937-222-STOP (7867)