At approximately 1 a.m. local time on Sunday, nine people were killed after a shooter opened fire on Dayton’s heavily populated historic district. The incident took place less than one day after a mass shooting killed 22 people in El Paso, Texas. Dozens more were injured in both shootings.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley lauded the response of Dayton’s police force, stating that hundreds more could have been killed had they not neutralized the shooter so quickly.
“I am so sorry that we are all gathered here tonight, but I am so grateful for the outpouring of support for the victims and their families,” she said.
“I know that many of us are hurting right now and are unsure of where we go from here. We have lots of challenging days ahead. But, you know, Dayton is fearless. 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.”
WATCH: Dayton Mayor calls police officers, community ‘fearless’ during shooting vigil
DeWine’s remarks were met with repeated shouts of “do something” from the crowd.
Video of the scene depicted people raising their fists and waving signs reading, “We are tired of vigils!” and, “What do we want? Gun control! When do we want it? Now!”
Following the synagogue shooting in Poway, Calif., on April 27, DeWine announced that his administration was working on a “red-flag law,” which would allow authorities to seize weapons from people deemed to be threats to themselves or others. He later told local media that his support for the legislation hinged on whether there would be due process involved.
WATCH: Crowd chants ‘do something’ at Dayton mass shooting vigil, calls for action
Residents of Dayton came out in scores to mourn the lives lost.
Brenda Shepherd read a poem out loud to the crowd Sunday evening, pleading with the audience to fight for reform, Cincinnati.com reported.
“What happened this morning is a tragedy in this world, not just for Dayton but for all of the world, because it’s got to stop,” she said.
“All of us,” Shepherd screamed. “Who’s with me?”
Seventeen-year-old Chaz Amos hopes the community can come together in the wake of this tragedy, he said on stage.
“It hurts to look at all of your faces,” he said. “It hurts all of us.”
WATCH: ‘Why will this not stop happening?’ — Presidential candidate O’Rourke
This wasn’t the only memorial organized this weekend to honour lives lost in a shooting massacre. Approximately 2,500 kilometres away, the residents of El Paso, Texas, also gathered to mourn the 22 people killed in a shooting that took place less than 24 hours before Connor Betts opened fire on Dayton’s historic district.
“Why will this not stop happening?” presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke asked a crowd of people who gathered in El Paso to honour the victims of Saturday’s shooting.
“There are so many right now who want to make us afraid of each other, make us angry, keep us apart based on our differences, seeking to divide us and keep us from the greatness that should rightly be ours.”
O’Rourke placed the blame for the shooting at U.S. President Donald Trump’s feet, claiming that the president’s rhetoric is intended to stoke fear.
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.
The 20 mass shootings that took place in the U.S. before the weekend incidents claimed 96 lives in total.
— With files from Hannah Jackson and the Associated Press.