9 killed, 27 injured in Ohio during second mass shooting in U.S. within 24 hours
“We do not have sufficient information to answer the question everyone wants to know — why,” Dayton police chief Richard Biehl told reporters at a press conference on Sunday.
“We do not have that answer at this time,” he said. “We will clearly pursue this investigation to try to understand motivation in this crime, assuming that there is motivation that is understandable.”
WATCH: Police say motive currently unknown in Dayton mass shooting
The shooting took place early Sunday morning in the Oregon District, a historic neighbourhood known for its night life.
Police have identified the deceased as Lois Oglesby, 27, Megan Betts, 22, Saeed Saleh, 38, Derrick Fudge, 57, Logan Turner, 30, Nicholas Cumer, 25, Thomas McNichols, 25, Beatrice Warren-Curtis, 36 and Monica Brickhouse, 39.
Police have also identified the shooter as 24-year-old Connor Betts.
The shooter’s 22-year-old sister, Megan Betts, was the youngest of the deceased victims, who were all killed in the same area.
WATCH: Police confirm identity of Dayton mass shooter, victims
According to Biehl, the shooter, his sister and a friend arrived at the venue together in the same vehicle. He said it’s unclear when the suspect separated from his sister and friend.
Twenty-seven people were injured as a result of the shooting, he said. One person remains in critical condition.
Police said the friend was among those injured in the shooting and was transported to hospital.
Hospital officials said during a press conference that injuries ranged from gunshot wounds to injuries sustained by people fleeing the gunfire. They added that hospitals received a number of victims with multiple gunshot wounds.
The shooter was killed in a shootout with police. He was neutralized in under a minute, Biehl said.
According to Biehl, the shooter wore a mask, a bulletproof vest and hearing protection, used a .223-calibre rifle with high-capacity magazines and had more magazines on him.
WATCH: Vigil held honouring victims of Dayton mass shooting
Biehl said “dozens” of rounds had been fired.
According to police, all nine fatalities took place outside.
Dayton police Lt. Col. Matt Carper described the Oregon District as “a safe part of downtown” — home to entertainment options, including bars, restaurants and theatres. The shooting took place on the 400 block of East 5th Street.
“These senseless acts of violence that occur have been happening in any place,” Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said at a press conference. “We’re in a situation now in our country that these are so random … but the Oregon District is one of the safest places in the region.”
She went on to say that a number of factors have led to a difficult year for the city, though she’s always amazed by the resilience of the community.
WATCH: Emergency services respond to scene of deadly Dayton mass shooting
“Three months ago, early in the morning, the day after Memorial Day we had a discussion about 14 tornadoes that ravaged our city, and now to be awakened in the middle of the night to a mass shooting and the 250th shooting in our country happening in Dayton — what really goes through my mind is that one is completely preventable,” Whaley told reporters. “When is enough, enough?”
She said she’d received a call from the White House in wake of the tragedy.
WATCH: Trump blames recent American mass shootings on mental illness
“I want to extend our condolences to the people El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, they’re incredible people and they’ve been through a lot,” U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters at an airport in New Jersey. “Hate has no place in our country, and we are going to take care of it.”
In a tweet posted Sunday afternoon, Trump said the flags at all federal government buildings would be lowered to half-mast in honour of the victims in both Dayton and El Paso.
“Melania and I are praying for all those impacted by this unspeakable act of evil!” he wrote.
WATCH: Dayton mayor credits police response in shooting: ‘100s of people could be dead’
Whaley said more than 70 mayors from around the country had reached out to her to express their condolences, many with similar experiences to share.
“Sadly, this isn’t something that only the city of Dayton has experienced,” she said. “What’s shocking to me is the number of people who have personal experiences in their communities.”
WATCH: Dayton mayor says shooting suspect wearing body armor, used assault rifle
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.”
WATCH: Beto O’Rouke blames Trump for violence in U.S. after shootings in El Paso, Dayton
Tianycia Leonard, 28, was in the back, smoking, at Newcom’s. She heard “loud thumps” that she initially thought were people 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.
WATCH: Dayton police responded quickly to active shooter: Chief Richard Biehl
The FBI is assisting with the investigation. A family assistance centre was set up at the Dayton Convention Center.
With a population of around 140,000, Dayton is in western Ohio, around 90 kilometres northeast of Cincinnati, 120 kilometres west of Columbus and 195 kilometres east of Indianapolis.
A vigil was held in the city of Dayton Sunday evening to honour the victims.
“I know that many of us are hurting right now and are uncertain of where we go from here,” Whaley said at the vigil. “We have lots of challenging days ahead, but you know Dayton is fearless.”
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine also addressed the crowd.
“Our heart goes out to the victims, our heart goes out to the victims’ families,” he said. “And this great crowd represents this great community, letting them know how much we deeply care about them.”
DeWine’s remarks were met with shouts of “do something” from the crowd.
WATCH: Crowd chants ‘do something’ at Dayton mass shooting vigil, calls for action
Earlier on Sunday, DeWine issued a statement, announcing that he had ordered flags in Ohio remain at half-mast.
“Fran and I are absolutely heartbroken over the horrible attack that occurred this morning in Dayton,” the statement said. ”We join those across Ohio and this country in offering our prayers to victims and their families.”
The Ohio shooting came after a young man opened fire in a crowded El Paso, Texas, shopping area, leaving 20 dead and more than two dozen injured.
The two mass shootings took place within less than 24 hours of each other.
Speaking from a Pride Parade in Vancouver on Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered his condolences.
“Obviously, today we need to start with a reflection on the terrible attacks in the United States,” he said. “We are grieving for the families and of course we stand with our American neighbours as they work through this difficult time.”
The weekend shootings were the 21st and 22nd mass killings of 2019 in the U.S., according to the AP/USA Today/Northeastern University mass murder database that tracks homicides with four or more people killed — not including the offender.
Twenty mass shootings have taken place in the U.S. before Sunday’s incident in Ohio, which in total claimed 96 lives.
— With files from the Associated Press.
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