Dayton police released new information Monday illustrating the scale of the carnage wrought in less than a minute by a gunman in the Oregon District early Sunday morning.
Police Chief Richard Biehl said officers recovered 41 spent casings strewn along East Fifth Street that came from the weapon of the shooter, Connor Betts. Biehl said Betts, 24, may have fired more shots, but the casings were lost as people fled and first-responders rushed into the scene.
Betts’ gun, a semi-automatic pistol Biehl said was modified to act like a rifle, was affixed with an ammo drum allowing him to fire up to 100 .223-caliber rounds without reloading. Biehl said Betts carried extra magazines on him.
“If all of those were completely at full capacity, including the loose rounds found on the ground near him as well as in a backpack he carried, he would have had a maximum of 250 rounds in his possession at the time,” Biehl said.
Dayton police officers responded immediately and shot Betts to death as he attempted to barge into Ned Peppers bar, where people had fled gunfire from the street. Six officers discharged their weapons and left behind 48 .45-caliber shell casings, 16 .233 casings, and 1 shotgun casing.
That means at least 106 shots rang out in the 30-second ordeal.
Biehl said police are still reviewing whether any of the injuries were caused by police gunfire, but at this point they have no evidence that is the case.
“That’s part of this investigation, not just in terms of what the autopsies revealed but anyone that’s wounded,” Biehl said. “That’s certainly a question we need to resolve conclusively.”
Police say Betts killed nine people, including his sister, before police killed him. The number of injured was increased Monday to 37, of which 14 suffered gunshot wounds. Others were trampled or suffered lacerations as people ran. Some of the wounded remained in serious condition Monday.
Panic is audible in 911 calls made in the minutes after the shooting.
“We’re at Blind Bob’s in Dayton,” one woman said through sobs. “There was shots and everybody laid down.”
“There was shots fired,” another woman told dispatchers. “There are people hurt. There is somebody hurt.”
The new details about what happened come as police continue to investigate how and why it happened.
“Not close enough,” Biehl said when asked how close police were to establishing a motive. “We have a lot of evidence to go through.”
“Based on where we’re at now, we are not seeing any indication of race being a motive,” Biehl added.
One of Betts’ first victims was his sister Megan, who was killed, and a companion who was shot in the lower torso and was still hospitalized Monday.
Biehl said Connor, Megan and the companion all came to the Oregon District together, then Connor separated from the other two and opened fire when he returned. It’s unclear when or why they came downtown from Bellbrook or if the sister and friend knew there were guns in the car. Police found a shotgun in the car, police said.
It’s not clear if Megan was a target.
“It seems to just defy believability he would shoot his own sister, but it’s also hard to believe that he didn’t recognize that was his sister,” Biehl said. “We just don’t know.”
The Dayton police investigation is aided by the FBI. Federal agents on Sunday interviewed people at a Chipotle where Betts reportedly worked, according to records obtained by the Dayton Daily News.
Meanwhile, more details emerged of Connor’s history and behaviors, which people who knew him found disturbing. One friend told the Dayton Daily News Monday Connor once put a gun to the friend’s head and talked about shooting up bar near the University of Dayton. He was reportedly suspended from high school after allegedly making a list of people he wanted to kill.
Biehl cautioned against people drawing conclusions about motives — especially based on actions from a decade ago — from the limited information available.
“Taking pieces of of evidence and coming to conclusions about its significance creates mistakes, large mistakes at times,” he said. “We really don’t know until we have all the information, all the evidence available.”
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