A 20-year-old Dayton man shot and injured four people at the Beavercreek Walmart on Monday night before dying of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Beavercreek police Capt. Chad Lindsey on Tuesday identified the gunman as Benjamin Charles Jones during a press conference.
Credit: Marshall Gorby
As of 2 p.m. Tuesday, three of the victims were in stable condition and the fourth was in critical, but stable condition, Lindsey said. Of those injured, three were women and one was a man.
All of the victims were shoppers at Walmart. They were located throughout the store and weren’t in one location, Capt. Scott Molnar said.
Jones walked into the Walmart, 3360 Pentagon Blvd., around 8:35 p.m., police said. Beavercreek police’s dispatch center received the first 911 call reporting a man with a rifle in the Walmart around 8:36 p.m. While dispatchers were trying to gather information, the gunman began shooting, Lindsey said.
The first responding officers arrived in scene at 8:39 p.m. and heard gunfire.
As they advanced and entered the store, they found the shooter on the ground near the vision center with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. No responding officers fired their weapons.
Police shared body camera footage of the first officer that responded to the scene. In the footage, the officer is sprinting up to the doors of the store, yelling to employees, “Where’s he at? What’s he look like?” Once the officer enters the store, one more gunshot is fired. The officer rounds the corner of the Walmart’s vision center, and finds the shooter’s body in the back of the section.
Credit: Marshall Gorby
Zrinka Dilber, assistant special agent in charge of the Cincinnati FBI Field Office, said the FBI is assisting Beavercreek police and investigating the shooter’s background, motivation and possible associates.
She encouraged anyone with information on Jones to reach out to the FBI at tips.fbi.gov.
Jones was from the region and had moved back to Dayton recently from Las Vegas, police said. Court records examined by the Dayton Daily News show Jones lived on Buell Lane in Dayton near the Huber Heights border when he was convicted of DUI in August.
A Dayton police car on Tuesday was parked outside the home on Buell Lane. The quiet neighborhood is filled with two-story homes in the $200,000 to $300,000 range.
Credit: Marshall Gorby
Dayton police said it is working with Beavercreek police and the FBI to provide any support necessary.
“At this juncture, it does not appear that the Dayton Police Department has had much interaction with this individual,” read a statement from the Dayton Police Department. “Nevertheless, we are committed to aiding our law enforcement partners in any way possible to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the events leading up to this tragic incident.”
Jones was armed with a High-Point .45-caliber carbine long gun, but it is not clear how many shots he fired, Lindsey said. Police are also investigating if Jones legally owned the firearm and any potential relationship between Jones and the victims.
Lindsey said he understands the shooting may put people on edge.
“It’s always one of those things where you think it can’t happen in your community,” he said. “So any time it does it’s shocking and tragic.”
Alisha Ring said when the gunman passed her inside the store, she assumed he had a BB gun.
But then she said she heard what sounded like glass breaking as gunfire rung out and she ran from the store.
From the parking lot, Ring posted to Facebook Live, telling people to check on their loved ones who may have been in the area.
“He walked right past me,” she said repeatedly, sobbing uncontrollably. “God was watching over me tonight. He walked right past me. I just wanted to get groceries.”
Ring described the shooter as a young “tall, skinny, white guy” with long hair who was carrying a half-open Army bookbag and “looked like he was on a mission.”
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are assisting Beavercreek police with the investigation.
Beavercreek Mayor Bob Stone called the shooting a tragedy.
“In the face of adversity, the strength of our community shines through. I extend my deepest gratitude to our first responders, especially the Beavercreek Police Department and Beavercreek Township Fire Department, as well as all the collaborating jurisdictions whose swift and coordinated efforts undoubtedly saved lives and minimized the impact of this devastating event,” he said. “Together, we unite in support and resilience during these challenging moments.”
City Manager Pete Landrum also thanked first responders and said the city is working to support them in the aftermath of the shooting.
“The well-being of our police officers and first responders is paramount,” he said. “Our police wellness programs and established protocols are actively engaged to support them as they deal with the emotional impact of this event.”
Daniel Long said the shooting wouldn’t discourage him from shopping at the Beavercreek Walmart or other locations.
“I definitely want to take precautions to protecting my family, but as far as living in fear, I don’t think that’s the resolution,” he said.
Long noted crime isn’t limited to one location and that people do bad things anywhere.
“We’ll do what we need to do to protect our family that’s for sure,” he added. “That’s the only thing we can do. We control the controllables; can’t control the uncontrollables.”
Fudge Foundation CEO and Oregon District shooting survivor Dion Green was in the area when he heard about the shooting and went to the Walmart to provide support.
Green hugged employees and encouraged them to ask for help if they needed it.
“I was in that spot where I felt alone, but I wasn’t,” he said. “So I had to let them know that.”
Green’s father, Derrick Fudge of Springfield, was one of the nine killed in the Dayton mass shooting on Aug. 4, 2019.
With the holiday now looking very different for those impacted by Monday night’s shooting, Green stressed the importance of creating memories with loved ones.
“People there last night were probably just getting the last little things they needed for Thanksgiving,” he said. “But your Thanksgiving is going to be so different because you’re dealing with the symptoms of trauma now … You shouldn’t have to worry about that.”
Area lawmakers reacted to shooting on Tuesday.
In lieu of knowing the assailant’s motives, state Rep. Rep. Brian Lampton, R-Beavercreek said the shooting offered another unfortunate prognosis that mental health needs to be an area of focus in the state. The issue was a central component in the state’s recently passed budget.
“I do think it’s indicative of a larger mental health issue that more and more folks are struggling with. We need to do everything we can to promote getting those folks to getting the help they need,” said Lampton, who suggested the state do more to create more mental health professionals and bury negative stigmas that come from seeking help.
Rep. Willis Blackshear Jr., D-Dayton, admonished the frequency in which gun violence occurs and called upon the Ohio General Assembly to move forward on several bills that attempt to reduce gun violence, including House Bill 218, which would restore local government’s authority on firearms and House Bill 309, which would establish a 10 day waiting period between when a prospective gun buyer passes a background check and when the purchase can be completed.
“My heart goes out to the families impacted by this tragedy. When will enough be enough? It’s time for our elected leaders to finally get serious about keeping our communities safe and take real steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who wish to hurt others or themselves,” Blackshear said.
Staff writers Jen Balduf, London Bishop, Sydney Dawes, Eric Schwartzberg and Kristen Spicker contributed to this report.