Officers who ended Oregon District mass shooting: ‘stay together and support each other’

Signs supporting the Dayton Police Department can be found throughout the Oregon District, including this chalkboard sign at Heart Mercantile. STAFF FILE

Combined ShapeCaption
Signs supporting the Dayton Police Department can be found throughout the Oregon District, including this chalkboard sign at Heart Mercantile. STAFF FILE

Six Dayton Police officers who three years ago ran toward a gunman and stopped a mass shooting in the Oregon District said every person who helped that fateful night are heroes and encouraged the community to continue to support each other.

For the first time, Dayton Police officers Jeremy Campbell, Ryan Nabel, Brian Rolfes, David Denlinger, Vincent Carter and recently retired Sgt. W. Chad Knight publicly recounted the events of Aug. 4, 2019. They have been credited with saving countless lives when they charged toward the gunman, Connor Betts, and killed him within about 32 seconds from the mass shooting’s start.

Nine people were killed and dozens more were injured that night. The nine killed were Monica Brickhouse, 39; Nicholas Cumer, 25; Megan Betts, 22; Derrick Fudge, 57; Thomas McNichols, 25; Lois Oglesby, 27; Saeed Saleh, 38; Logan Turner, 30; and Beatrice Warren Curtis, 36.

Campbell said it was his first night patrolling the Oregon District and him and some other officers were resolving another situation when he was first alerted something was wrong.

“As I am finishing something up on the computer we hear what initially sounded like gun shots and I say out loud, I remember ,‘is that gun shots?’” Campbell said. “Officer Rofles takes off running as fast as he can towards what he hears and the rest of us follow and that was the very initial thoughts.”

Combined ShapeCaption
The Dayton Police Officers who responded Aug. 4, 2019 to an active shooter in the Oregon District spoke for the first time since the incident. From left are officers Jeremy Campbell, Ryan Nabel, Brian Rolfes, David Denlinger, Vincent Carter, and Sgt. Chad Knight / CONTRIBUTED

The Dayton Police Officers who responded Aug. 4, 2019 to an active shooter in the Oregon District spoke for the first time since the incident. From left are officers Jeremy Campbell, Ryan Nabel, Brian Rolfes, David Denlinger, Vincent Carter, and Sgt. Chad Knight / CONTRIBUTED

Combined ShapeCaption
The Dayton Police Officers who responded Aug. 4, 2019 to an active shooter in the Oregon District spoke for the first time since the incident. From left are officers Jeremy Campbell, Ryan Nabel, Brian Rolfes, David Denlinger, Vincent Carter, and Sgt. Chad Knight / CONTRIBUTED

Knight said he was in car talking to Denlinger when he heard the noise. They jumped into action and the gunfire continued, he said.

“His second volley (of gunfire) had started and it didn’t stop until we stopped him,” Knight said.

ExploreOregon District mass shooting survivors ‘reclaim’ area for themselves, community

Campbell said he thought about his kids and faced the reality that he was in a dangerous situations in the moments leading up to the confrontation with the shooter.

“In an instant when I took that one step onto the side walk, and I’m still scanning for the threat and I see the threat and I see a guy wearing khaki shorts, black hoodie, black mask and he has a rifle with a drum mag, which I never seen something like that before, so in my mind I’m like ‘is this real?’” Campbell said. “I’ve already got my gun, I’ve already got him in sight and it was in an instant where you see that bullets are hitting the ground, smoke flying up, you see bullets hitting people, people falling, people running everywhere.

“It’s a chaotic situation, but for me I just focused in, just this hyper vigilance almost on him and that’s when I decided to shoot,” Campbell said. “It was all very quick.”

For their actions, the six police officers were awarded the Medal of Valor by President Donald Trump. They also said they received a lot of gratitude from the community.

“The Oregon District, the people who live there, the people who work there, it’s kind of like a big family,” Knight said. “Everybody knows everybody, it’s a special group of people down there and they treated us very, very well.”

The officers noted that there were many first responders who urgently went to the scene that night and helped people and said they are heroes too. They also gave credit to employees working in the Oregon District and regular citizens who also quickly acted to aid those who were shot.

ExploreWATCH: President Trump calls Dayton police officers ‘exceptional’ in Medal of Valor ceremony

The officers said they do still think about the shooting and usually wonder if they could have done more to stop it faster. They said they would trade in any distinction if it meant bringing the nine people who were killed back.

They said the community support they have received has helped them and they hope the community continues to stay strong.

“We just want them to make sure that they stay together and support each other,” Knight said.

About the Author