In less time than it takes to warm a cup of coffee, police said Connor Betts murdered nine people and injured dozens more.
In 30 seconds.
That’s around the time it took the 24-year-old Bellbrook man to reign terror down the Oregon District last Sunday as he opened fire with his gun. The loud boom of the weapon echoed for blocks and the victims’ screams are something bystanders will never forget.
For the past week, the Dayton Daily News examined police logs, 911 calls, hospital reports, videos and interviewed eyewitnesses, victims and relatives to piece together what happen that horrific night.
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‘Chaos and panic’
Sheila Stanifer was dining with a friend on the patio of Blind Bob’s just after 1 a.m. That’s when the first “boom” was heard, Stanifer said. A man sitting next to them yelled, “Get down on the ground or you’re gonna die.”
After leaving Newcom’s Tavern just minutes before, Dion Green and his fiancée were in line at a popular taco stand, a weekend fixture in front of Blind Bob’s bar. Next to them was Green’s dad, Derrick Fudge of Springfield.
That’s when Green caught a glimpse of a man dressed in black — armed with a firearm. All at once, he heard the first shots as the gunman walked past him from an alley beside the bar, across the sidewalk and onto a packed Fifth Street.”
“This is unreal,” Green recalled thinking as shots rang past them.
“Once he gets on the other side of the street, that’s when it sounds like a roll of firecrackers went off and chaos and the panic started,” Green said.
Just across the street, Dutch Woods II waited in line to get into Ned Peppers with Thomas “TeeJay” McNichols, a man he met earlier that night.
Surveillance video captured the moment shots rang out and for the next terrifying 30 seconds scores of people scrambled for their lives. Dozens ran into Ned Peppers. Others dove for cover behind cars and street planters.
“I ducked — got real low — because in my mind, the first thing you think of was running, but when you don’t know where the shots are coming from, you can’t run,” Woods said. “You just got to take cover.”
As the smoke and smell of gunpowder from 106 rounds of ammunition filled the street, Green was crouching for cover next to two people on the ground — one his dad.
“The situation turned into something else real quick,” Green said. “I told my dad to get up. His eyes were open. ‘Come on, get up dad.’”
“That’s when I get down. I look at his body. I don’t see no bullet holes but when I get closer I see the blood coming from behind his head,” Green said. “I just grabbed onto him. I cradled him and told him I love him. I just couldn’t let go.”
Next to them on the ground was another person fighting for their life. “She’s saying, ‘Can you call the police. Help, I’ve been shot,” Green said.
The person pleading for help was Megan Betts – the gunman’s sister and one of the first to get shot. Near them, McNichols lay dying across the street.
Before the mayhem
At some point Saturday night, Connor Betts, who was out with his younger sister Megan and a friend, Chace Beard, parked a 2007 gray Toyota Corolla in the parking lot near Thai 9 and Jay’s Seafood. The three entered Blind Bob’s bar shortly after 11 p.m. Saturday, established by surveillance footage from the bar obtained by CNN.
About an hour after he entered the bar Connor Betts, wearing a t-shirt and shorts, stops at the front door, talks to staff and exits.
His sister and Beard remained in the hopping bar another 45 minutes before they exited around 1 a.m.
It’s unclear at this time what Connor Betts did between leaving the bar at 12:13 a.m.
But when he emerged from the dark alley next to Blind Bob’s patio he looked completely different, wearing a mask, bullet-proof vest and hearing protection — and carried a semi-automatic pistol modified with a long barrel and an extended-capacity drum magazine, capable of holding up to 100 rounds.
And he was carrying more ammo in a backpack.
Cops react quickly
After the first bullets struck his sister, his friend Beard —along with Fudge and another man — Connor Betts leveled fire on people across the street outside Ned Peppers, witnesses said.
Police, who regularly patrol the Oregon District on weekends, were nearby. One cruiser was already parked alongside the next building over.
“Active shooter downtown,” an officer shouted into his radio as gunfire erupted. “Multiple shots fired. Multiple shots fired.”
More than 20 people in front of Ned Peppers ran, tumbled and fell away from the gunfire — many into the doorway of the bar. More people swept past the view of a surveillance camera and dove through the bar’s doors.
While everyone else ran into the bar, the doorman — on a phone or radio — stepped outside, looked down the sidewalk, then ducked back in just seconds before the shooter came into view.
Within 20 seconds, officers were firing on the shooter who was moving quickly down the sidewalk.
Several officers converged on Connor Betts from the east, guns drawn. Another officer quickly flanked the shooter from the opposite direction.
The shooter’s gun appeared drawn as he turned toward the bar’s doorway. Connor Betts was hit by bullets, fell to the ground and rolled to his back. He attempted to get up but a fusillade of police gunfire left him dead face down just outside the doorway.
The doorman, later identified as Jeremy Ganger, grabbed the gun from perpetrator’s hands.
“We’re going to need multiple medics,” an officer said over police radio. “We think there’s one shooter. He is down.”
Bars empty, people run to help
A “Signal 99” — an officer in trouble — was relayed to multiple police jurisdictions and medics were summoned and hospitals notified. At the same time, calls poured into 911 dispatchers. One woman reported hearing gunfire from more than three miles away.
Multiple 911 calls originated from people huddled in Oregon District bars where they took shelter. Some were injured.
“We need an ambulance on Fifth Street at Tumbleweeds,” a caller said. “Somebody just shot a bunch of people and somebody is in here bleeding from their head.”
Before more police and medics arrived, some gave first aid to victims. Bartenders and bouncers from nearby bars used t-shirts and bar rags as makeshift tourniquets.
“The smoke hasn’t cleared, and they are rushing outside to help people,” said Austin Smith, Ned Peppers’ general manager. “It would be easy to run and hide.”
As she ran from Blind Bob’s, Donna Pettitt Miller said blood was everywhere because an employee ran insider after the restaurant after being shot.
In the darkness, some held flashlights and their cell phones for those treating the wounded while others held and comforted victims.
Holley Redman and her friend James Williams were at nearby Newcom’s Tavern and rushed to the wounded and dying.
Redman began breathing for a man bleeding from a gunshot as another person pumped furiously on his chest. A woman tried to stop the bleeding with her hands, but they couldn’t save Logan Turner, Redman said.
The tragedy drew a massive number of police and firefighters.
More than 100 police officers from multiple departments were dispatched to the scene Sunday, according to log sheets.
Two Moraine officers arrived within 10 minutes and worked their way toward the center of the Oregon District – under the assumption that an active shooter was still on the loose.
Officer Adam Lyons and Matthew Schenkel came upon two black males who were already dead, a white female getting CPR, and a white male who couldn’t move his leg and was named in their report filed afterward as Beard.
As Lyons stood guard over them with a shotgun, Schenkel cut off Beard’s shorts, found a bullet wound to the right hip and kept pressure on the wound until medics took over, his report reads.
Schenkel noticed the burners were still on at the now-abandoned taco stand and turned off the gas.
Dayton Fire Department had 21 medic units headed to the scene, but some of the wounded were already on the way to hospitals in the back of police cars. Some wounded drove themselves to the emergency room, said officials.
A Miami Valley Hospital trauma team resident was inside Ned Peppers when the shooting started, said Dr. Peter Ekeh, medical director of the program and a trauma surgeon. The woman ran out the back door and phoned colleagues telling them to brace for casualties.
Miami Valley Hospital took in its first wounded about 10 minutes after the shooting. Eight minutes after that, two more victims arrived. Within an hour and half, the hospital would receive another 16.
Five people with gunshot wounds went to Grandview Hospital, the first arriving at 1:29. All were transported there by police, according to the hospital.
Some people were trampled or hurt running away, but 14 of the 37 injured were treated for gunshot wounds, mainly to extremities and inflicted by a round made to kill, Ekeh said.
“These are very high-velocity ballistic missiles that are designed for carnage,” he said. “They are weapons of warfare.”
For hours, Fifth Street was littered with shoes from people who escaped, medical bandages and abandoned vehicles riddled with bullet holes. Blood covered the bricks and pavement. And lying on the sidewalk and street were 10 bodies covered with white sheets.
Following the carnage, police did not put down their guard as they thought Betts may have had an accomplice — dressed similarly and still on the loose.
They were on the lookout for a dark blue Jeep and even alerted Indiana authorities it might cross the state line.
At 3:18 a.m., attention turned toward Connor Betts’ car left in the parking lot behind Thai 9 Restaurant.
As dawn approached, the last of 10 bodies was removed from the street. Two officers held up crime scene tape that spanned Fifth Street to allow the coroner’s van to pass.
Light of day
As the sun rose Sunday, few knew the horror of the night.
A yellow evidence marker — scores of them in all — now sat where each shell casing came to rest. As word spread of the shooting, people across the Miami Valley wondered whether one of those numbers signified the death of a loved one, close friend or acquaintance.
“This is a day we all dread happening,” Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said at the first of several appearances that day.
“In less than one minute, Dayton officers neutralized the shooter,” she said. “That saved literally hundreds of lives.”
Later in the morning, officials beyond the city limits reacted to the shooting and nation’s attention became focused on the Oregon District, site of the country’s second mass shooting in just 13 hours.
At subsequent news conferences the community learned the names of the cops who brought down the gunman, the shooter’s name and the shocking news his sister was among the deceased.
Memorials went up along Fifth Street and a community came together that afternoon and evening to mourn, remember and start to heal.
At one prayer gathering, Celeste Pickett went up and put her arms around Brittany Mitchell — a complete stranger — because Mitchell was standing by herself crying.
“You never leave anyone alone,” Pickett said.
With four hours remaining on a day that will pain so many ceaselessly, the community gathered for a candlelight vigil.
Ohio’s governor began to speak. The crowd had a louder message: “Do something!”
Staff Writers Cornelius Frolik, Lisa Powell, Amelia Robinson, Kaitlin Schroeder, Holly Shively and Josh Sweigart contributed to this story.
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