DAYTON, Ohio - Nine people were killed and 27 were injured Sunday morning in a shooting in Dayton, Ohio, authorities said, the latest such incident in a grim week of mass shootings across the nation.
Officials say they have identified the suspected shooter, who is also dead, but are not releasing information yet.
The attack came less than a day after a man with an assault-style weapon killed 20 people in El Paso and a week after a gunman fired on a garlic festival in Gilroy, California, killing three people, including a 6-year-old boy, and wounding 12. With the country still grieving, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley noted that the tragedy in her city was just the latest.
“As a mayor, this is a day that we all dread happening,” she said in a Sunday morning news conference. “And certainly what’s very sad as I’ve gotten messages from cities across the country is that so many of us have gone through it.”
The shooting shattered a typical summer weekend night’s revelry in Dayton’s Oregon District, outside the 400 block of East Fifth Street and amid a busy nightlife scene of bars and restaurants, according to authorities. Police said officers ended the violence “quickly” by shooting the gunman, who began firing at 1:07 a.m. with what Whalen called an “AK-like gun.”
The gunman used a .223-caliber high-capacity magazine and was wearing body armor, according to Whalen. The suspect had additional magazines. Officers neutralized him in under a minute, she said, and that quick response saved lives.
“While this is a terribly sad day for our city, I am amazed by the quick response of Dayton police that saved literally hundreds of lives,” she said, adding that the injured are at area hospitals and that Gov. Mike DeWine - whom she has been in contact with - conveyed his condolences.
Whalen said that as of 10 a.m., 27 hurt in the shooting and its aftermath have been treated and 15 have been discharged.
Miami Valley Hospital received 16 victims, 12 of which have been released, hospital staff said at a news conference. One of the remaining patients is in critical condition, and some have undergone or are undergoing surgery Sunday.
Kettering Health Network was treating multiple victims as well, spokeswoman Elizabeth Long said. The network’s Grandview Medical Center received the most patients, she said, with nine people treated; seven were brought to the center by authorities, while two others walked in. Three of those nine are in serious conditions, while three more are in fair condition and others are discharged, according to Long.
Injuries ranged from gunshot wounds to the abdomen and extremities to a foot laceration sustained in the chaos after the shooting, Long said. Other Kettering Health Network facilities are treating more patients.
Authorities said they believe there was only one shooter and have yet to provide details about the suspect, though they are interviewing dozens of people. The FBI is aiding the investigation. Police have not yet provided the names of victims.
Whaley would not speculate on the gunman’s motive.
“I can’t get inside his head,” she said.
Police Lt. Col. Matt Carper said it is too early in the investigation to determine whether the gunman was targeting anyone or any place specifically.
A vigil for victims and their loved ones will be held at 8 p.m. Sunday. City officials have yet to announce a location.
Just hours after the shooting, the scene had been cordoned off with police tape and the area was largely deserted. But as daybreak settled over the city, more and more people filed into Dayton’s convention center seeking information about missing loved ones at a station set up by the city.
Joe Oglesby said he was “numb” when he found out that his niece, Lois Oglesby, was among those killed. Oglesby said his 29-year-old niece had just had a baby last month and had an older child.
“She was a nurse’s aide and a very devoted mother,” Oglesby said.
Jazze Pigue, 26, of Dayton arrived at the convention center to find her cousin. Initial reports put the shooting around Ned Peppers nightclub, which Pigue said her cousin liked to visit. The recent rash of U.S. shootings and Dayton’s addition to the long list of places attacked is “disheartening,” she said.
The shooting is one in a string of high-profile challenges the city has faced this year. A Ku Klux Klan rally drew hundreds of protesters to the city in May, followed by a round of tornadoes that chewed through the northern party of the city.
“Dayton has been through a lot lately, but I continue to be amazed at the grit and resiliency of the community,” Whaley said.
The governor ordered flags to fly at half-staff as people from around the world expressed sadness over the latest mass shooting in the United States. Pope Francis offered his condolences for the victims of U.S. shootings that hurt “defenseless people.” New British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted out his sympathy, too.
President Donald Trump has been briefed on the Dayton shooting and is monitoring the situation, deputy White House press secretary Steven Groves told the Associated Press.
Trump’s first tweet on the shooting Sunday morning focused on law enforcement’s response, praising the speed, and said that “information is rapidly being accumulated in Dayton.”
“Much has already (been) learned in El Paso,” he wrote.
“God bless the people of El Paso Texas,” he added in another tweet. “God bless the people of Dayton, Ohio.”
The Oregon District, sandwiched between the city’s downtown and the nearby University of Dayton, wrote in a Facebook post, “We are heartbroken for the victims and their families.” The district will reopen Sunday afternoon, Whalen said, maintaining that the district is “one of the safest places in the whole region” while saying that recent attacks show any place in the country could be hit by gun violence.
Ohio leaders also shared their grief. Some went beyond condolences to call for stricter gun control, echoing Democratic leaders who renewed their condemnations of inaction on guns after the El Paso shooting.
“We are also angry - angry that shooting after shooting politicians in Washington and Columbus refuse to pass sensible gun-safety laws to protect our communities,” Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, tweeted.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, did not mention gun control but said in a statement that these “senseless acts of violence must stop.”
Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, wrote on Twitter that his daughter and a friend were across the street from the shooting when it began. They watched as officers ran toward gunfire, he said.
“Thank you to DaytonPolice for their bravery in stopping this evil,” Turner said.