Oregon District officers: ‘We could not be more proud’ of them

Six Dayton police officers who stopped a gunman in the Oregon District within about 32 seconds of his first shot were honored this week by police officials and city leadership, exactly one month after the tragedy.

The officers’ heroic actions on Aug. 4 quickly ended Dayton shooter Connor Betts’ killing rampage, saving countless lives, police and city officials said.

“Not only did we have officers bravely engaging a shooter, but we had officers who responded beyond the call of duty,” said Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein. “I am so very proud of their service.”

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The mass shooting on Aug. 4 was a tragedy in every sense of the word, said Dayton police Chief Richard Biehl, and resulted in the deaths of nine people, injured dozens more and left hundreds of people traumatized because of what they saw and experienced.

But six officers ran toward danger and “neutralized” the shooter in about 32 seconds, and their brave response has been a “beacon of light and glimmer of hope” through this dark experience to people across the community, the country and around the globe, Biehl said.

The officers are Sgt. William C. Knight, Vincent Carter, David Denlinger, Ryan Nabel, Brian Rolfes and Jeremy Campbell.

The Dayton Police Department has received hundreds of emails, social media messages and thank-you cards from citizens who wanted to express gratitude and encouragement for how the officers responded to the crisis, Biehl said.

On Wednesday, Dayton City Commissioners heaped praise on the officers for what they did that day and what they do every day in the line of duty.

“Your actions speak loud and for themselves,” said Dayton City Commissioner Darryl Fairchild.

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Commissioner Jeff Mims Jr. said the officers’ quick response and decision-making in the midst of chaos and imminent danger was remarkable.

“My heart just goes out to you, and certainly the families,” he said.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said she has talked to all of the officers involved individually but publicly wanted to declare how proud she is of the city and its police officers for the bravery they displayed that night and every night.

“We’ve had, as I like to term it, one hell of a summer,” she said. “And you all have been the front lines of it.”

The past few months have been challenging for Dayton police officers, who had to keep order at a KKK-group’s hate rally, assist after the devastating tornadoes, respond to the mass shooting and investigate other tragedies since then like the deadly crash in front of the downtown Dayton Metro Library, officials said.

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The department-wide response to the Oregon District shooting was “extraordinary,” and included officers providing first aid, performing CPR, applying tourniquets and transporting victims to the hospital in their police cruisers, Biehl said this week.

Officers also tried to comfort people who lost loved ones or friends and who were in shock following the violence, he said.

Police supervisors took charge to secure the scene and ensure all victims and witnesses were interviewed, Biehl said, and officers came to work who were off, and they stayed late and arrived early to help respond to and investigate the tragedy.

Biehl said he applauds the officers for their hard work every day to protect the public.

The police department provides officers training, equipment, policies and supervision, but it still comes down to courage to respond as they did to the shooting, said Dayton police Lt. Col. Matt Carper, assistant police chief.

“We just could not be more proud of those six officers,” he said.

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