DAYTON, OHIO (NYTIMES, REUTERS) - At least nine people were killed and 27 were wounded in a shooting early Sunday (Aug 4) in Dayton, Ohio, the second American mass shooting in less than 24 hours and the third in a week.
The shooting began at 1.07am on East Fifth Street in the city’s Oregon entertainment district, which was bustling with thousands of late-night revelers, Mayor Nan Whaley said.
Uniformed officers on routine patrol in the area quickly responded, shooting and killing the gunman within one minute of his first gunshots, she said.
“While this is a terribly sad day for our city, I am amazed by the quick response of Dayton Police that saved literally hundreds of lives,” she said at a news conference.
Assistant Police Chief Matt Carper named the gunman as Connor Betts, a 24-year-old white man from Bellbrook, Ohio, and said his sister Megan Betts, 22, was among those killed.
Whaley said victims were receiving treatment at several local hospitals. Terrea Little, a spokesman at Miami Valley Hospital, confirmed the hospital had received 16 patients from the shooting, but had no information on their conditions.
Of the 27 injured, four people were in serious condition and one person in critical, medical authorities said.
An employee at Ned Peppers, a bar on the street, wrote in a post on Instagram that “all of our staff is safe and our hearts go out to everyone involved as we gather information”.
The gunman appeared ready to exact an even higher death toll. He was outfitted in body armour, carrying a rifle with multiple high-capacity magazines, Whaley said.
There were no immediate clues to what might have motivated him. No manifesto or social media presence has been found so far.
Investigators believe the individual had acted alone, Carper said.
The victims were four women and five men and ranged in age from 22 to 57, authorities said, adding that the youngest was the gunman’s sister. Six of the nine people killed were African-American.
“There isn’t much discrimination in the shooting,” Carper told reporters. “It happened in a very short period of time.”
Whaley said that had police officers not confronted the suspect as quickly as they did, “hundreds of people in the Oregon District could be dead today”.
FBI agents were assisting in the investigation.
The Ohio incident was the latest tragedy in one of the worst weeks in memory for gun violence in the United States.
The shooting came less than a day after a gunman in El Paso left at least 20 dead and 26 others wounded inside a Walmart store. Last week, a gunman killed three people and wounded 13 others in a shooting at a garlic festival in Gilroy, California.
In all, there have been at least 32 mass shootings, defined as three or more killings in a single episode, in the United States this year.
Pope Francis condemned the attacks on “defenseless people” in the US shootings in his Sunday message and blessing from St Peter’s Square.
On Twitter, most of the trending topics – the subjects talked about the most – were about gun violence. At one point Sunday morning, so many people used the phrase “another shooting” it became one of the nation’s top 10 topics.
The Dayton Daily News said the latest shooting occurred at or near Ned Peppers Bar.
The newspaper cited a Facebook post from James Wilson, who said he was a customer sitting on a patio just outside the bar when the shooting occurred in front of the establishment.
“He (a gunman) tried to get into the bar but did not make it through the door,” Wilson wrote. “Someone took the gun from him and he got shot and is dead.”
One witness, Anthony Reynolds, said he heard gunfire that sounded like it was coming from a high-powered weapon.
“Just boom boom boom boom boom boom rapid,” he said. “You could tell there’s a big gun. You’re not going to get those from no handgun. You’re not.”
Deb Decker, a spokesman for emergency services in Montgomery County, Ohio, told CNN the assailant had been making his way to Ned Peppers from another bar when someone grabbed the barrel of his rifle, and he drew a handgun, but was then shot as police arrived.