Two people killed in the Oregon District shooting were wounded by police gunfire, but the fatal wounds came from the mass shooter and not police, the county coroner said Thursday.
Additionally, the shooter had cocaine, alcohol and Xanax in his body and died with three bloody mental health counseling receipts in his possession, the Dayton Daily News learned during the coroner’s press conference and the newspaper’s examination of preliminary autopsy results.
Montgomery County Coroner Kent Harshbarger and Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl met with the two families of those victims who were caught by police fire during the Aug. 4 massacre, the pair said during a late-afternoon press conference.
“The substantial danger in not shooting and not immediately stopping the assailant would have without question resulted in exponentially more fatalities,” Biehl said. “Although it weighs heavily on us that some of our rounds caused additional wounding, we are comforted by the coroner’s findings that no rounds fired by officers resulted in the death of any innocent citizens.”
The gunman opened fire on a crowd of people before Dayton officers rushed toward him and killed him, an encounter that took 32 seconds from start to finish.
“This incident involved an intense firefight that is rarely seen other than in combat and active shooter incidents,” Biehl said. “It was a dynamic and chaotic environment that did not allow for perfection and execution of the tactical response.”
Physical evidence gathered and analyzed so far doesn’t suggest any of the 17 surviving shooting victims were hit by police gunfire, officials said. One small bullet fragment that was recovered will be further analyzed, but right now its origin is inconclusive, Biehl said.
Hospital officials confirmed Thursday that the final patient being treated at Miami Valley Hospital following the shooting has been discharged.
Two victims shot by police
Harshbarger said one victim received injuries from police that would’ve been deadly on its own, but came after being fatally wounded by the shooter. The other victim sustained a superficial injury to the soft tissue from a bullet fired by police officers, Harshbarger said.
The coroner said his evaluation of the scene, video evidence and the positioning and pathways of the shooter and the deceased led him to conclude the victim was first fatally wounded by the shooter.
The six responding police officers fired three types of weapons: 49 shots from .45-caliber pistols, 16-18 shots from a .223-caliber rifle and one shotgun round. Harshbarger said none of the police rifle rounds or shotgun fire hit the victims.
Nearly all of the gunshot wounds suffered by the victims were from small-caliber rounds like those fired by the killer, he said.
Preliminary autopsy records examined by the Dayton Daily News say Beatrice Warren-Curtis was shot twice with .45-caliber rounds, the size of bullet used by police. One shot was to the chest. She was shot seven times total, according to the report.
The coroner’s records also say a .45-caliber round was found in the clothing of Monica Brickhouse. She was shot three times, the report says. The report didn’t say she was hit by large-caliber gunfire, but she suffered additional wounds from shrapnel.
Coroner’s photos show Brickhouse and Warren-Curtis were the closest to the shooter when police opened fire on him from the east. They were roughly 15 feet west of the shooter at the other end of the Ned Peppers patio.
Two dozen bullets hit shooter
The shooter, Connor Betts, 24, of Bellbrook, was struck by at least 24 bullets and had 52 wounds, including entry and exit wounds, the coroner said.
“The training is to use force to the extent until the threat is ended,” Biehl said. “There’s two efforts by him to get back on his feet. He’s still armed, he still has substantial firepower in his possession, and until he is separated from that firepower … lethal force is warranted.”
Betts was shot multiple times in his upper and lower extremities, and his wounds were above and to the side of the body armor plates he wore on his chest, Harshbarger said.
Investigators recovered a makeshift pipe on Betts that had a plastic baggie attached to the end that tested positive for cocaine, the coroner said.
Items recovered from Betts’ body included receipts for mental health care on April 5, June 10, and another date that couldn’t be read. The receipts were for $50 payments. Two were marked for mental health counseling, and one for mental health services.
Biehl previously said the shooter had received treatment, but wasn’t aware of any diagnosed mental illnesses. Multiple people who knew the shooter have told the Dayton Daily News that Betts had told them he had several mental illnesses, including depression and possible bipolar disorder.
The body armor on the shooter was manufactured July 8, according to the photos.
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