The shooter in Sunday’s Oregon District rampage that left nine dead and 37 injured sang songs that focused on sexual violence, necrophilia, gore and violence.
Until the months leading up to the shooting, Connor Betts, 24, of Bellbrook was in a pornogrind band, which is considered part of the metal genre.
Most evidence of the band has been deleted from social media and other metal pages, but cached versions of Encyclopedia Metallum, the Metal Archives, show that a profile for Betts was created on May 3 of this year by bigballzboi69, a profile owned by Jesse Creekbaum, another member of the band.
Pornogrind music is gory and aggressively sexual in nature, with lyrics focusing on death.
“We have a really good hardcore metal scene in Dayton, but lyrically, not what has been linked to Connor Betts,” said Juliet Fromholt, a bands and music expert at WYSO. She said she couldn’t think of a place where pornogrind music was played in the area.
Betts’ band played in a Summer Massacre II concert in Illinois alongside other porno bands, according to the Chicago Reader. The group’s graphic album artwork shows the mutilated bodies of women and rape.
University of Dayton ethnomusicologist Heather MacLachlan said it’s not possible to directly say the music incited violence, adding that most people who listen to pornogrind will never murder others. But in hindsight, it also can’t be ignored that Betts participated in the extremely violent nature.
“His involvement in that extremely hateful music shouldn’t be discounted. We should take that seriously,” she said. “We’re never going to be able to say it was precisely the cause or it was this much percent of the cause of his violent rage, but I don’t think we can excuse it.”
Creekbaum told Vice that he has deleted most of the band’s songs and details online because he doesn’t want the music he produced to make a cult hero out of Betts. Creekbaum also said in the Vice story the band hasn’t been active since he found out in July Betts had contacted showgoers for money after a recent show, and he was sickened that songs he viewed as jokes were taken seriously by Betts.
Music has been linked to violence in the past, McLauchlan said. Defense lawyers of a boy who grew up down the street from her in Canada said the rock music made the boy commit a murder of an older man when he was 13 or 14. He was released quickly and ten years later killed a married couple over what music to play at a party, she said.
Mansfield police are currently investigating a murder where 31-year-old Cody Lutz, who had no criminal record before his arrest for murder, said heavy metal music had spoken to him to kill before midnight, Detective Dave Scheurer told WBNS earlier this year. Scheurer told the Dayton Daily News he was not able to comment further about the investigation.
A serial killer in California in the 1980s said AC/DC’s night prowler inspired him to sneak into people’s homes and kill them.
“All of us perceive things the way we’re socialized to perceive them,” Mclauchlin said. “…To loudly in public sing over and over and over about raping and killing women violates a social boundary that most of us obey. So if you’re willing to violate that already in your mind, I would think you have neutralized or justified some things as acceptable.”
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