Police say Oregon District gunman Connor Betts’ shooting rampage started around 1:05 a.m. Sunday in the alleyway next to Blind Bob’s Tavern.
He then emerged onto Fifth Street, turned right and unleashed a barrage of firepower from a modified semi-automatic rifle affixed with a 100-round barrel. Witnesses say the large-caliber rounds sounded like someone pounding on a metal dumpster.
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Nine people were killed and 27 were wounded. Among the initial victims were his sister, who was fatally shot, and a companion who was wounded.
Dayton police officers were nearby and charged toward the gunfire. Within 30 seconds, a sergeant with 22 years on the force and five officers — each only three years or less on the job — opened fire on Betts as he attempted to barge into Ned Peppers bar. He fell and died on the bar’s front steps.
Credit: John Minchillo
Credit: John Minchillo
“They engaged the suspect who was actively firing and attempting to enter a crowded liquor establishment,” Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl said. “The threat was neutralized within approximately 30 seconds of the suspect firing his first shot.”
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Video released by police show people scrambling for cover. Dozens fled into Ned Peppers with Connor in pursuit before police opened fire.
A 911 caller from Newcoms relayed the chaos. “We ran inside. We barricaded the door,” he told a dispatcher frantically.
Tanycia Leonard, who was at Newcoms when gunfire erupted, sat stunned on the curb hours later. “People were running hysterically everywhere, trying to hide and duck,” she told the Dayton Daily News.
Leonard’s sister Nikita Papillion went outside to see a girl who just shortly before complimented her outfit. “I see her lying on the ground dead,” she said.
Biehl said the investigation is ongoing and it’s too early to speculate on a motive. Biehl said Betts, his sister and companion originally arrived at the Oregon District together in the Betts family Toyota Carolla, which police found parked in the lot behind Thai 9.
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At some point Connor separated from the other two, Biehl said, and came back shooting.
Connor wore a bulletproof vest, mask and hearing protection. He carried a .223 caliber rifle, and police found a shotgun in his car. Biehl said the guns appeared to be legally purchased, and none of the modifications to the rifle appeared to be illegal.
Many people credit the quick response of Dayton police for likely saving countless lives.
“In less than one minute, Dayton officers neutralized the shooter,” Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said. “That saved literally hundreds of lives.”
“I really want to thank law enforcement,” said state Rep. Phil Plummer, who formerly served as Montgomery County sheriff. “They did their jobs. They stopped this guy within a minute, they ran to the gunfire and took care of business. And that’s what we ask out of them.”
Within 12 hours of the shooting, the neighborhood worked to heal. People gathered in the alleyway where Megan was killed, some involved in planning a vigil for her and the other victims.
Oregon District resident Mickie Robinson was walking her dog Lucky Sunday afternoon. As they walked, she pulled weeds along the sidewalk. It’s something she does multiple times a day, often well into the night.
She was home when the shooting happened early that morning, but didn’t hear it inside her house. She said the incident has no impact on how much pride she has in her neighborhood.
“I feel very safe here,” she said.
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