U.S. attorney general sets summit on mass shootings in wake of Dayton, others

Scene in the Oregon District where 10 people were killed, including the shooter, in a mass shooting that also injured more than two dozen others. The shooting took place in the 400 block of East Fifth Street at 1:07 A.M.  TY GREENLEES / STAFF

caption arrowCaption
Scene in the Oregon District where 10 people were killed, including the shooter, in a mass shooting that also injured more than two dozen others. The shooting took place in the 400 block of East Fifth Street at 1:07 A.M. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

In response to recent mass shootings across the country — including the Aug. 4 shooting in Dayton’s Oregon District — U.S. Attorney Gen. William Barr has announced plans for a summit to address the problem.

The announcement was made in a memo to the nation’s U.S. attorneys and federal law enforcement agencies. The summit is aimed at confronting “the threat of mass shootings as part of a federal law enforcement campaign to refine our ability to identify attackers before they strike.”

Between Memorial and Labor Day there were 26 mass shootings in 18 states with 65 deaths nationwide, according to the New York Times. The newspaper considers a mass shooting to have at least three victims.

The summit is scheduled for December, but a specific date, time and place have not been announced.

“Targeted killings of innocent people are senseless and cowardly, and demand the full attention of the United States government,” Barr said in the memo, according to media reports. “While we are cognizant that irrational acts of violence by lone actors are very challenging to prevent in every instance, quiet professionals in the department have a strong record of swift action in meeting these threats.”

RELATED: Oregon District mass shooting

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley supports initiatives such as the one Barr is proposing to find solutions to curbing gun violence, but she said the federal government should also pass stricter gun laws.

“Developing tools to identify people interested in carrying out mass shootings is certainly important work for the FBI to undertake,” Whaley said Thursday. “But what would be most meaningful from the federal government is real action to restrict dangerous people from accessing weapons that can cause incredible loss of life in just a few seconds.”

Barr’s announcement comes nearly three months after Connor Betts, 24, went to the Oregon District and killed nine people and injured 27 others in front of Ned Peppers bar on East Fifth Street. He was wearing a body armor, and he used the upper receiver of an AR-15 to modify his weapon to operate like a rifle. The gunman, a Bellbrook native, was carrying a 100-round double drum magazine.

Those killed in the Dayton shooting were Megan Betts, 22,; Monica Brickhouse, 39; Nicholas Cumer, 25; Derrick Fudge, 57; Thomas McNichols, 25; Lois Oglesby, 27; Saheed Saleh, 38; Logan Turner, 30; and Beatrice Warren Curtis, 36.

Six Dayton police officers fatally shot Betts less than a minute after he opened fire, and before he entered the bar. The victims were from various parts of the Miami Valley, including Springfield.

In the weeks after the shooting, former schoolmates told the Dayton Daily News that Betts had violent tendencies and acted on them at various times since middle school. He pulled a gun on a friend, put a knife to a classmate’s throat and attempted to choke another. He also compiled rape and kill lists of classmates while in high school, friends have said.

Another of Betts’ former classmates who spoke on condition of anonymity said that he fantasized about tying her up and slitting her throat. The fetish was so macabre that even Betts admitted he was scared of his thoughts, the woman recalled him saying.

Dayton residents side with the idea of a national summit to discuss the threat of mass shooting, but the idea will be a good one only if there is action that follows the talk.

“It’s such a touchy subject with so many people,” Robert Richter said Wednesday night. “I think it would be beneficial.”

RELATED:Remembering the Victims | 2019 Dayton Oregon District Mass Shooting

Support for Barr’s summit broke along party lines for two Ohio members of Congress who responded to the Dayton Daily News’ request for comments.

“I support this step towards addressing the issue of mass shootings,” said Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton. “We must engage in a bipartisan national conversation and take action to prevent tragedies like the one that occurred here in Dayton.”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, who along with Sen. Rob Portman this week introduced a resolution condemning the Oregon District shooting, said rather than host a summit, President Donald Trump, Barr and Senate Majority Leader McConnell should stop working for the National Rifle Association and support commonsense solutions.

“We cannot say we are doing what it takes to keep Americans safe until we are finally willing to pass commonsense laws to protect people from gun violence,” said Brown, D-Ohio. “We need to get weapons of war off our streets now, and vote immediately in the Senate on commonsense background checks that the House of Representatives already passed. The people of Dayton have called on elected officials to ‘do something.’”


CONTINUING COVERAGE

Our team is dedicated to covering the aftermath of the Oregon District mass shooting, the impact on our community and changes going forward. Read past stories at DaytonDailyNews.com

About the Author