The gunman who killed nine people and injured dozens when he opened fire early Sunday in a popular nightlife area of Dayton, Ohio, before being killed by police was a man in his 20s named Connor Betts, a law enforcement official said.
Betts was killed by police less than a minute after he opened fire with a rifle in the streets of the Oregon District around 1 a.m. Sunday in the second U.S. mass shooting in less than 24 hours. Police haven’t released further information about Betts or publicly discussed a motive.
The official who identified the gunman spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity and was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation publicly.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said the shooter was wearing body armor and had additional high-capacity magazines. Had police not responded so quickly, “hundreds of people in the Oregon District could be dead today,” she said.
The historic neighborhood that police Lt. Col. Matt Carper described as “a safe part of downtown,” is home to bars, restaurants and theaters.
Whaley said at least 27 people were treated for injuries, and at least 15 of those have been released. Several more remain in serious or critical condition, local hospital officials said at a news conference.
They said some people suffered multiple gunshot wounds, and others were injured as they fled.
Nikita Papillon, 23, was across the street at Newcom’s Tavern when the shooting started. She said she saw a girl she had talked to earlier lying outside Ned Peppers Bar.
“She had told me she liked my outfit and thought I was cute, and I told her I liked her outfit and I thought she was cute,” Papillon said. She herself had been to Ned Peppers the night before, describing it as the kind of place “where you don’t have to worry about someone shooting up the place.”
“People my age, we don’t think something like this is going to happen,” she said. “And when it happens, words can’t describe it.”
Tianycia Leonard, 28, was in the back, smoking, at Newcom’s. She heard “loud thumps” that she initially thought was someone pounding on a dumpster.
“It was so noisy, but then you could tell it was gunshots and there was a lot of rounds,” Leonard said.
Staff of an Oregon District bar called Ned Peppers said in a Facebook post that they were left shaken and confused by the shooting. The bar said a bouncer was treated for shrapnel wounds.
A message seeking further comment was left with staff.
President Trump was briefed on the shooting and praised law enforcement’s speedy response in a tweet Sunday.
Gov. Mike DeWine issued his own statement, announcing that he ordered flags in Ohio remain at half-staff and offering assistance to Whaley and prayers for the victims.
The Ohio shooting came hours after a young man opened fire in a crowded El Paso shopping area, leaving 20 dead and more than two dozen injured. Just days before, on July 28, a 19-year-old shot and killed three people, including two children, at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Northern California.
The El Paso shooting was the 21st mass killing in the United States in 2019, according to the AP/USATODAY/Northeastern University mass murder database that tracks all U.S. homicides since 2006 involving four or more people killed — not including the offender — over a short period of time regardless of weapon, location, victim-offender relationship or motive. That makes Sunday’s shooting in Dayton the 22nd mass killing in the U.S. this year.
The first 20 mass killings in the U.S. in 2019 claimed 96 lives.