Community reacts with worry, spirituality, efforts to help

Dayton area residents have been responding to the Oregon District mass shooting in a variety of ways since 1 a.m. – from helping hands, to worry, to spiritual messages.

Angela Kaskocsak of Dayton drove to the Oregon District early Sunday to offer people free rides home after hearing one witness interviewed on the radio saying they were stranded. She sat in her car with a sign on her dashboard offering free rides.

MAIN STORY: 9 killed, 27 wounded in Dayton shooting

“My purpose was because I’m also a therapist and maybe I could talk with him on the way home to kind of process out what happened,” Kaskocsak said.

After dawn broke, Tonya Vanmeter was trying to find her friend Eric, who worked very close to the shooting site.

“Once I found out about it, I just lost it. I went hysterical,” VanMeter said. “He is a really really good friend of mine. … My husband tried to call, left a message on his voice mail. … I’m hoping and praying that he’s all right.”

Since then, multiple phone lines have been set up for people to get more information about their loved ones who may have been in the Oregon District. People can call (937) 333-8431, or 333-8428, or 333-8421, or 333-8446.

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At Sunday morning services at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, a few hundred yards east of the shooting site, Rev. Ken Pleiman tried to help parishioners process the tragedy. He said people are shocked and lost after a three-month stretch that included a Ku Klux Klan rally, devastating tornadoes and now, a mass shooting.

“Once more this morning, we’re challenged to look at this hatred that seems to be overwhelming our country,” Pleiman said. “In our world there is both unity and virtue, there is also hatred and anger. Each day we have the opportunity to embrace one another. The scriptures tell us about these two facets of life and leave no doubt as to where God is leading us and what we must do.”

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