Son of Springfield man killed in Oregon District mass shooting reflects on one year anniversary of losing his father

Dion Green looks at a memorial set up in Dayton’s Oregon District to honor the nine victims of the Dayton mass shooting, including his father Derrick Fudge of Springfield. STAFF
Dion Green looks at a memorial set up in Dayton’s Oregon District to honor the nine victims of the Dayton mass shooting, including his father Derrick Fudge of Springfield. STAFF

It’s been nearly one year since Dion Green’s father, Derrick Fudge, died in his arms after the Oregon District mass shooting in Dayton.

In the early morning of Aug. 4, 2019, Connor Betts, 24, opened fire in front of Ned Peppers bar on East Fifth Street in Dayton, killing nine people, including his sister, and injuring 27 others as he attempted to enter the bar.

Among those killed were two Springfield natives: Derrick Fudge, 57, and Monica Brickhouse, 39.

The night of the shooting, Fudge was there with his son and a large group of others who were out enjoying the night. Green said he believes his father saved his life that night, as the two were standing just inches away from each other when the bullet struck Fudge.

Green held his father in his arms that night as he died.

ExploreSon of Springfield man killed in Dayton shooting: 'He must have taken it for me'

But despite all of that, Green said he holds no ill-will towards the Betts family.

“I wrote a letter to his parents and told them I forgave them for all this tragedy,” Green said. “I had to leave that in God’s hand. You can’t let the anger control you, because it can make you so angry. You have to let that go.”

Green has described his father as many things; a cornhole player, a fisherman and a family man who was a fantastic father and somehow an even better grandfather. And with the anniversary of his father’s death on Tuesday, Green said lately he’s been overwhelmed with “so many thoughts,” about his father and that August night.

“It’s going to be an emotional and hard day. I’m ready to just cry and let it out. Which is what I’ve done some days before the anniversary,” Green said. “Even though you might think you are prepared for when the grief comes, you never are.”

Springfield natives Derrick Fudge and Monica Brickhouse were two of the nine fatal victims of the Oregon District mass shooting.
Springfield natives Derrick Fudge and Monica Brickhouse were two of the nine fatal victims of the Oregon District mass shooting.

Green has been busy over the last year — turning all of his grief into good. He said he has spent what feels like nearly every day since his fathers’ death memorializing him.

“I think a lot of people don’t know their why. They don’t know what they were put here to do. But that shooting, that’s my purpose. That’s what I was put here for. To help people who have lost their lives to mental health or guns,” Green said. “That’s how I became strong to enlighten others and help them too.”

Becoming a bell ringer for the Springfield Salvation Army, donating money and iPads to Villa Springfield Rehabilitation Healthcare Center after the coronavirus pandemic left the elderly unable to have visitors and writing a memoir about his life are just some of the things Green has managed to accomplish in just a 12-month span.

Explore'Honoring with action': Mass shooting victim's son gives back

Green said he wrote his book, “Untitled: Act of God/Act of Man” in hopes of showing others that “you can create light out of the darkness.”

“I wrote the book before the first holidays, the first birthday (without his dad). It was pretty much just me letting out all my pain,” Green said. “But then when it came out, I had people telling me they were thankful I was so open and honest about my experiences.”

Most recently, Green launched Flourishing Under Distress Given Encouragement (Fudge), a nonprofit named for his dad. The nonprofit will connect survivors of a variety of trauma to services and offer encouragement. A march held in Springfield on July 25 for those who had lost loved ones to gun violence served as a sort of a kick off for the charity.

“It’s focused on helping survivors move back towards normalcy. You can never be the person you were before, but you can try to regain some of it,” Green said.

Green, a father himself to his 11-year-old daughter, Niara, said launching the nonprofit and staying busy with other acts of community service has helped him work through some of his own trauma from Aug. 4.

Dayton area resident shared stories of survival as part of the Dayton Strong Storytelling Sessions recorded at the Dayton Metro Library.  Dion Green is pictured. Green's home was badly damaged in the Memorial Day tornadoes. Weeks later, his father, Derrick Fudge, died in his arms in the Oregon District mass shooting.
Dayton area resident shared stories of survival as part of the Dayton Strong Storytelling Sessions recorded at the Dayton Metro Library. Dion Green is pictured. Green's home was badly damaged in the Memorial Day tornadoes. Weeks later, his father, Derrick Fudge, died in his arms in the Oregon District mass shooting.

Credit: Submitted

Credit: Submitted

“We are all victims of something,” Green said. “You know the saying ‘It takes a village to raise a kid’? That’s how I feel about the community. We all have to work as one to create that change. I’m just trying to make an impact on someone’s life. Even if it’s just one person.”

The Springfield News-Sun reached out to the family of Monica Brickhouse for this story and did not receive a response. Only one of Brickhouse’s family members has ever spoken publicly about her death.

At a vigil held last year in Springfield for Fudge and Brickhouse, Debra Brooks, her aunt, simply asked the community to pray for her family.

“She was my sister’s only child,” Brooks said. “(Brickhouse) had one son who she left behind. I want everyone to pray. Pray for our community and for our families because it hurts. It’s going to be a while and it’s going to take God.”

ExploreFamily of Springfield native killed in Dayton shooting asks for prayer: 'It hurts'