A gunman opened fire outside a bar in Dayton, Ohio, shortly after 1 a.m Sunday morning killing nine people—the second large-scale mass shooting nationally in 24 hours.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said officers who responded to the shooting within seconds saved “literally hundreds of lives” by denying the gunman entrance into the crowded bar. Eyewitnesses said someone grabbed the rifle out of the gunman’s hands, but authorities have not confirmed those accounts.
At least 26 people were injured in the attack, officials said.
The bloodshed in Ohio unfolded just hours after 20 people were killed by a gunman who stalked a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. More than two dozen were injured.
The Dayton gunman was identified as Connor Betts, 24, of Ohio. Betts wore body armor and fired a rifle outfitted with a high-capacity magazine, authorities said.
Betts killed his 22-year-old sister, Megan, and eight other people who were publicly identified by officials on Sunday afternoon.
Betts started shooting just after 1 a.m. in an area known as the Oregon District, a downtown hub filled with bars, clubs, restaurants and galleries. The Dayton Daily News said it occurred near a bar called Ned Peppers.
“We had officers in the immediate vicinity when this shooting began and were able to respond and put an end to it quickly,” Dayton Police Lt. Matt Carper said at an early morning news conference.
“There was a very short timeline of violence,” Carper said. “For that we’re very fortunate.”
It appears the toll could have been even worse. Witnesses said someone grabbed the rifle from the gunman as he tried to enter. The Daily News reported one witness posted online that the shooter “tried to go into the bar but did not make it through the door.”
“There are at least eight people dead right by the picnic table where I was on the street. A bunch of people taken to the hospital. I don’t know how any... this place is a disaster.”
Those details could not be immediately confirmed, but police said all the casualties were outside.
Anthony Reynolds, an eyewitness to the Dayton shooting, told Willie Geist on NBC’s Today show that he was leaving a club around 1 a.m. with his cousin when he heard the first shot.
“It didn’t sound like a familiar sound,” he said. “Then you hear a second boom and after that it was complete rapid fire for like one minute.”
Reynolds said said he had seen the gunman, who he described as a white male, wearing all black. He said the gunman’s face was covered.
“You could see bodies starting actually to fall,” Reynolds said, adding that it was then he realized “it was bigger than a shootout.” Reynolds said he started yelling at people, “Run it’s a mass shooter, run it’s a mass shooter.” Reynolds also said he knew one of victims.
“I know her child’s father. He posted online that she had passed... she was celebrating the birth of her child.”