DAYTON (Ohio) • A gunman wearing body armour and carrying extra magazines opened fire in a popular nightlife area of Dayton, Ohio, killing nine and injuring dozens yesterday, the authorities said, in the second US mass shooting in less than 24 hours.
Dayton police patrolling the area responded in less than a minute to the shooting, which unfolded at around 1am on the streets of the Oregon District, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said at a press conference.
Ms Whaley said that had the police not responded so quickly, "hundreds of people in the Oregon District could be dead today".
The Oregon District is a historic neighbourhood that assistant police chief Matt Carper described as "a safe part of downtown", home to entertainment options including bars, restaurants and theatres.
The gunman was shot dead by responding officers.
A witness described the assailant as a white man, and CBS News quoted law enforcement sources as saying the shooter was 24-year-old Connor Betts of Bellbrook, Ohio.
Ms Whaley said he was carrying a .223-calibre rifle and had additional high-capacity magazines with him.
Police believe there was only one shooter and have not yet identified a motive.
At least 26 people are being treated at hospitals, though no details about their conditions have been released. Miami Valley Hospital spokesman Terrea Little said the hospital had received 16 victims, but she could not confirm their conditions. Kettering Health Network spokesman Elizabeth Long said multiple victims from a shooting had been taken to hospitals, but she did not have details on how many.
Ms 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 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."
Ms Tianycia Leonard, 28, was smoking in the back at Newcom's.
She heard "loud thumps" that she initially thought were caused by people pounding on a dumpster. "It was so noisy, but then you could tell they were gunshots and there were a lot of rounds," Ms Leonard said.
Governor Mike DeWine issued his own statement before 7am, announcing that he had ordered flags in Ohio to remain at half-mast and offered assistance to Ms Whaley.
"Fran (Mr DeWine's wife) 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 FBI is assisting with the probe. A family assistance centre was set up at the Dayton Convention Centre. Yesterday's shooting in Dayton was the 22nd mass killing in the US this year, according to the AP/USA Today/Northeastern University mass murder database that tracks homicides where four or more people are killed - not including the offender.