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New video shows Dayton gunman was inside bar before shooting, police say attack was planned

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Cornelius Frolik
Dayton Daily News, Ohio

Dayton police revealed new details Tuesday about the Oregon District gunman’s movement in the hour ahead of the mass shooting, including the revelation that the killer first went to Ned Peppers in a possible effort to case the bar before the massacre.

Police also revealed that 17 people were wounded by gunfire during the Aug. 4 shootout on Fifth Street, a disclosure that adds an additional three people to the list of those shot. Police couldn’t definitively say whether the shooter wounded each of the injured or if police fire went astray.

Police killed Connor Betts, 24, within seconds, even though the shooter earlier walked past their car and likely knew their location before he was armed.

The revelations have come as a half-dozen investigators have reviewed hours of surveillance video from the Oregon District, which has now been turned over to federal authorities.

Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl also revealed during an hour-long press conference Tuesday:

• Investigators believe the early Sunday morning shooting was planned “well before” the shooter got to the Oregon District on Saturday night. Police said Betts was in the Oregon District the night before the slaughter.

• Betts kept in touch with his sister and his friend after he left Blind Bob’s bar without them. The communications included a brief phone call between the Betts siblings, the nature of which police haven’t determined.

• When he returned to his car after leaving Blind Bob’s, the shooter likely hid parts of the gun in his backpack. Then, police believe, the killer assembled his gun behind Blind Bob’s during a nine-minute stretch during which he isn’t picked up by surveillance cameras.

• The gunman’s bulletproof vest was ill-fitting, allowing police to kill him more efficiently than if it had been properly worn. When they examined his body, police found unspecified “drug paraphernalia.”

• Police don’t believe Betts had any co-conspirators the night of the shooting.

Killer at bar before rampage

Betts, of Bellbrook, spent almost a half hour in Ned Peppers bar before the shooting. Biehl said it’s a “strong possibility” Betts was scouting the establishment before the killing spree, but he also cautioned Betts was “very familiar with the Oregon District.”

“This was not a place he did not know,” Biehl said.

Ned Peppers always may have been Betts’ intended destination, though that may never be known for sure, the chief said. Betts was fatally shot by police directly in front of the entrance to the popular late-night bar and dance club.

Biehl said there is no indication that any of his encounters or contacts in Ned Peppers were significant and could have led to the shooting.

Some survivors said they recognized Betts when the shooter’s identity was released and remembered seeing him on multiple previous occasions at or around Fifth Street bars.

Asked if Ned Peppers was Betts’ ultimate destination, Biehl answered, “It’s not unreasonable to think that, but I don’t know we can prove it conclusively.”

Timeline details revealed

Betts, his sister and Beard arrived in the Oregon District and parked in a lot behind Thai Nine and Omega Music at 11:04 p.m., said Lt. Paul Saunders, commander of the Dayton police’s strategic planning bureau.

The three visited Blind Bob’s and hung out until about 12:13 a.m., when Betts left his sister and Beard at the bar and alone went across the street to Ned Peppers.

Betts spent about 28 minutes in the densely packed bar before leaving at 12:42 a.m., heading east toward Wayne Avenue before heading south on Jackson Street. In doing so, Betts passed in front of the police cruiser belonging to the officers who would eventually stop his rampage.

Betts spent about eight minutes — from 12:46 to 12:54 a.m. — back at his car. He changed clothes and donned a backpack that authorities now believe had the unassembled parts of his firearm.

Police suspect Betts assembled the gun in the nine minutes he’s off-camera behind Blind Bob’s.

Betts started down the alley next to Blind Bob’s patio at 1:04 a.m., opening fire at 1:05 a.m., shooting east while moving north across Fifth Street. Some of the first victims included Megan Betts, Beard and Derrick Fudge, who were standing by the taco stand. Authorities said Connor Betts would’ve known his sister and friend would’ve been in the area, but aren’t sure if he meant to shoot them.

Betts was shot by police and was down 32 seconds later at 1:06 a.m.

The data and footage has been turned over to the FBI for technical analysis and deeper review, police said.

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©2019 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)

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