Citizens, politicians demand change as Dayton’s devastated Oregon District tries to heal

The Spectrum

DAYTON, Ohio (WCMH) — Unspeakable violence broke out in a neighborhood known for its nightlife when a man with an assault-style rifle opened fire in Dayton’s Oregon District, killing nine people and wounding more than a dozen more.

It took less than a minute for police to shoot and kill the gunman thanks to the quick action of officers who were on duty in the Oregon District. Just one week ago, the nation was waking up to the news of the mass shooting in Dayton. It came less than a day after another gunman opened fire in a Texas Walmart, killing 22 people.

The shocking deaths of 31 Americans opened the floodgates of grief and anger and led many to demand change.

“We were just out for a night of fun and we walked into a complete ambush,” said Cynthia, one of the shooting survivors.

Her friend Nicole Duke, a 34-year-old mother of three, was shot and left in critical condition. Cynthia looked down and saw she too was covered in blood.

“It went through this side of my arm and came out the other side,” she said gesturing to the bandage on her right forearm.

Cynthia took cover in a doorway as police officers ran toward the gunman.

“They were surrounding him coming form both angles and all I heard was ‘Stop, get on the ground. Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop,” she recalled. “All you seen were bodies laying everywhere, police scattering trying to help victims, bystanders helping victims.”

Within hours, family members of the victims would learn their loved ones would never come home.

Debbie Cantrell lost her young cousin Monica Brickhouse.

“We always said it would never happen. It could never happen to us, but it’s just … know that anything is possible,” she said. “But you just have to always trust God.”

Others say they lost their sense of security.

“It’s scary, it’s terrifying that you can just go out and think you are going to have a good night and just be taken from everyone,” Chelsea Little said.

As people brought flowers, candles and name cards for each of the nine victims who were killed, they made one thing clear.

“We don’t want his [the gunman’s] name to be everywhere,” Madison Robinson said. “We want their [the victims’] names to be here. We want to remember them.”

Six officers were on duty in the Oregon District and they killed the shooter within 30 seconds as he tried to get into Ned Peppers bar.

“Think about that for a minute,” Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said. “The shooter was able to kill nine people and injure 26 in less than a minute.”

The gunman was identified as 24-year-old Connor Betts. He was armed with an assault-style rifle and wore a bulletproof vest. His own sister, Megan Betts, was among those killed.

Whaley said it’s time for Ohio’s leaders to move beyond just offering thoughts and prayers.

Two days later, after being interrupted by protesters chanting “Do something” at a vigil for the Dayton victims, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine laid out a 17-point plan aimed at curbing gun violence. It includes a proposal for red flag laws that allow someone to raise the alarm if they believe another person with a gun is a danger to themselves or other. He also wants to expand background checks and put other gun controls in place, a dramatic shift from others in the Republican Party.

“If we do these things, it will matter If we do these things, it will make us safer,” DeWine told the media at a press conference. “Each one of these by themselves is not going to solve all the problems, but I believe in my heart that each and every one of them will help.”

When President Donald Trump arrived in Dayton, Whaley and Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown asked him to go even further.

“The mayor and I asked the president to call on Sen. McConnell, to bring the Senate back in session this week, to tell the Senate that he wants the background check bill that has already passed the House that he wants it on the floor,” Brown told the media after Trump departed Dayton. “I asked the president to promise to me and to the American people that he will sign that bill after he’s spoken out in support of it with Sen. McConnell.”

However, Trump later claimed Brown and Whaley mischaracterized the tone of their meeting and so far, there no support from the White House for an assault weapons ban.

In the devastated Oregon District, there is support for change.

Guy Fragmin had just stepped onto the sidewalk in front of his diner in the Oregon District when the shooting started. He rushed people inside, helping them get away from the flying bullets. Now, he’s ready to help his neighborhood heal.

“The only way we’re going to change this situation is when people become aware and start voting with their conscience,” Fargin said, asking for others to continue praying for Dayton. “Dayton’s strong. We can make it through a KKK rally, we can make it through a tornado, we’ll make it through this. We’ll pull together and come together. I know it.”

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