Connor Betts, who was named by police as the body armor-wearing, masked gunman who fatally shot at least 9 people, including his own sister, in Dayton, Ohio, had shown red flags since high school, when former classmates say he drew up a hit list and was a bully.
Betts was also in a “Pornogrind” Band that, according to Vice News, “released songs about raping and killing women.” Vice called it the “extreme metal music scene.” The bands he performed in sometimes were called Menstrual Munchies and Putrid Liquid, and the songs contained vile names like “6 Ways of Female Butchery” and “Preeteen Daughter Pu$$y Slaughter,” Vice reported.
A woman he briefly dated, Caitlyn “Adelia” Johnson, told The Toledo Blade that he took her to gun ranges and showed her body camera video footage from a mass shooting, causing her to break off the relationship by text message. She also told the newspaper that Betts confided that he was bipolar and had Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
The tragedy left at least 27 more injured in a popular bar and restaurant district in Dayton, Ohio.
Betts was 24 and from Bellbrook, Ohio. He’d attended some college, and he lived with his parents and sister. Witnesses said he was wearing all black when he opened fire. Betts was killed by police, with six officers firing at least one round, and officials said the carnage might have been even worse were it not for their quick response.
Betts’ own dad weighed in on the Sandy Hook massacre on his Facebook page in 2012. “Saying that discussion about the causes of the massacre is petty is exactly wrong. Trying to understand the causes of this tragedy is the only way to keep it from happening again. And keeping all the other children safe from this kind of crazy is the goal. How many more children have to die before we can have a rational discussion about this?” Steve Betts wrote.
On social media, the suspect’s biography started to emerge. On his Twitter page, reviewed by Heavy, he described himself as “he/him / anime fan / metalhead / leftist / i’m going to hell and i’m not coming back.” He wrote on Twitter that he would happily vote for Democrat Elizabeth Warren, praised Satan, was upset about the 2016 presidential election results, and added, “I want socialism, and i’ll not wait for the idiots to finally come round to understanding.” The Greene County Board of Elections lists his party as “Dem.” You can read a roundup of his tweets – which also dealt with Parkland, Florida and 9/11 – here and later in this article.
Old tweets indicated the site was once @bettsconnor:
Here’s his tweet on Donald Trump’s election victory:
The Twitter page was up for hours after the mass shooting, but Twitter has now suspended it. Asked why it suspended Betts’ page, a Twitter spokesperson told Heavy, “We’re proactively removing content that violates our policies and will be engaged with law enforcement, as appropriate.” In addition, according to the Dayton Daily News, Betts “was seen carrying a gun and protesting at the Ku Klux Klan rally” in May.
On LinkedIn, Betts described himself as offering “extensive customer service experience” and described himself as “good under pressure. Fast learner. Eager to overachieve.” But his employment history consisted of service positions, and the warning signs might date to high school, when Betts may have written a hit list on a bathroom wall, WCPO-TV reported. Dayton police initially identified the shooter on Twitter as Conner Betts, but online and social media records give the spelling as Connor. In a press conference, police confirmed the correct spelling was Connor, not Conner. Former high school classmates took to Twitter and Facebook to describe Betts as a bully who liked to scare women.
According to Daily Beast, Betts’ sister, Megan, 22, and an unidentified male “were found shot” near the mass shooting scene. Betts arrived in the Oregon District with his sister and her “companion,” before the shooting, police said. At some point prior to the shooting they separated. Betts’ sister was not the first victim of the shooting, but was one of the initial victims. Police have not said if he was targeting his sister. Her companion was wounded, but not killed, and has talked to police, authorities said. Betts’ sibling identified as a transgender man named Jordan Cofer but was only out to a few people, according to Splinter.
On Facebook, Megan Betts wrote that she was a “tour Guide at Missoula Smokejumper Visitor Center” who “Studies at Wright State University Department of Biological Sciences.” You can read more about Megan Betts here.
Authorities have now named the 9 deceased victims. In addition to Megan Betts, they are Lois Oglesby, black female, 27; Saeed Saleh, 38, black male; Logan Turner, white male, 30; Nicholas P. Cumer, white male, 25; Thomas J. McNichols, black male, 25; Beatrice N. Warren-Curtis, black female, 36; Monica E. Brickhouse, black female, 39; and Derrick R. Fudge, black male, 57. You can read tributes to the victims here. Heavy has included the victims’ race to be consistent with how local police povided the information in a press release and press conference.
Assistant police chief Matt Carper said in a press conference that, just after 1 a.m., there was an “active shooter situation in the Oregon District…we had one shooter that we are aware of and multiple victims. Right now, the shooter is deceased from gunshot wounds from the responding officers. We have nine victims deceased in addition to that, and we have approximately 16 more victims hospitalized right now in unknown conditions.” Later, the wounded count rose to 27, although some of those people have already been released from the hospital.
Scanner audio – and multiple Twitter reports – indicated the shooting was focused around Ned Peppers. The Ned Peppers’ website describes it as a “traditional western-ish themed bar located right in the heart of the Oregon District in Dayton Ohio.” The Dayton shooting came just hours after the nation was already reeling from a different mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, where 22 people died.
Ned Peppers wrote on Facebook, “All of our staff is safe and our hearts go out to everyone involved as we gather information.” In a midday press conference on August 4, the governor offered “great sympathy” for the victims and their families. “It’s the type of tragedy you pray never comes to your state.” The governor praised the quick actions of the officers who “ended this tragedy,” saying that they “undoubtedly saved many, many lives. We will never know how many lives were saved…The assailant was obviously close to being able to kill dozens and dozens of more people.”
The police chief said that the deaths would likely have been much higher if the shooter had gotten inside the bar.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Police Were Still Investigating the Motive of Connor Betts, Who Wrote on LinkedIn That He Worked at a Chain Restaurant
So far, the motive for the mass shooting remained elusive. In the El Paso mass shooting only hours before, an anti-immigrant manifesto possibly tied to the gunman there gave clues about motive. In Dayton, there was less of a paper trail pointing toward “why.”
“Clearly, the question has to be, why does Dayton have to be the 250th shooting in America?” Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said. “Two hundred and fifty this year. El Paso was 249, Dayton was 250.”
Police Chief Richard Biehl said at an August 4 press conference, “We are very, very early into this investigation. Any suggestion at this time of motive would be irresponsible. We do not have sufficient information to answer the question that everyone wants to know, ‘why?’ We do not have that answer at this time. We will clearly pursue this investigation to try to understand the motivation in this crime, presuming there is a motivation that is understandable. We have a lot of evidence to process through. Much, much investigation is before us.”
Biehl added, “We have not evidence to suggest that there’s a bias motive in this crime at this time.”
Biehl said the sister was not the first victim shot. They don’t know yet if she was targeted. The gunman came to the scene with his sister and her “companion” in the same vehicle and at some point before the shooting separated.
Assistant Chief Carper said police are investigating to see what Betts’ “possible motivation might have been. The suspect was firing a long gun with multiple rounds at the victims.” The Dayton Daily News reports that eyewitnesses to the attack say that the gunman had been refused entry to the bar. Those rumors have not been confirmed. Officials have not said what they believe the motive for the shooting is. One survivor described seeing bodies falling in the line to get into the bar.
CNN obtained surveillance video that showed Betts in Blind Bob’s bar the night of the shooting with a woman who looked like his sister and a third person CNN named as Charles Beard; he wasn’t wearing the body armor and so forth used in the shooting. CNN noted that there is no evidence Beard or Megan Betts had any knowledge of what was to come.
According to a LinkedIn page in his name, Connor Betts was a crew member at Chipotle Mexican Grill starting in 2017 in Centerville, Ohio.
The page says he worked in the crew at a gas station in Centerville for three years from 2014 to 2017.
“I was their go-to guy for anything that needed done – changing lights, painting the walls, covering shifts. Beyond that, I worked the weekend shifts for 3 years – Friday through Sunday, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Unfortunately, I started school and Chipotle, and I had to drop Marathon,” he wrote.
The assistant chief said the convention center was being opened up with resources for family members. Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown said in an appearance on CNN that the suspect, a white male, is a resident of Montgomery County, the county where Dayton is located. However, Bellbrook is located in Greene County.
The active shooter opened fire at Ned Peppers bar in Dayton, Ohio just hours after a gunman in El Paso, Texas shot and killed 20 people at a Walmart. Authorities referred to the Dayton shooting as a “mass casualty incident” on the scanner.
The chief said they have no reason to believe there is a “bias motive in this crime at this time.” He said “dozens of rounds were fired.”
2. The Accused Gunman, Who Wrote That He Was a Psychology Student But Performed Misogynistic Music, Used a High-Capacity Magazine Rifle That He Purchased Legally
The LinkedIn page identifies Betts as a psychology student at Sinclair Community College. The college confirmed he used to be a student there, according to WCPO.
Jesse Creekbaum, who was in the “pornogrind” scene with Betts said to Vice that he considered the music a joke, but now worries “how much of this was like real life for him (Betts)?” You can see some of the extremely disturbing music here. He described Betts to Vice as an emotionally withdrawn loner.
The Neckbeard Deathcamp band wrote on Twitter, “I did not know Conner Betts personally, but the midwest grind scene isn’t large and we spend a lot of time pushing pornogrind out of Chicago DIY. For what it’s worth men who cape hard line “””””left””””” politics who still treat women like sh*t are not exactly a new invention.” According to Vice, he followed their account on his now deleted Twitter page.
They added, “Thank you to the handful of publications who reached out to us to talk about it. I apologize if I had let on that I knew the shooter more intimately than I did, to me he was just another dipshit in the facebook groups posting tapes….It seems like kind of a reach that him following us on twitter from a fairly anonymous account meant I knew him well. But no good right wing theory comes without a few exciting artistic flourishes.”
Miami Valley Hospital spokesperson Terrea Little told MSNBC that the hospital had received 16 of the victims.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley told the media in a 7 a.m. press conference that the gunman used a .223-caliber high-capacity magazine rifle. Mayor Whaley said the shooter wore a mask covering his face. The mayor added, “If the Dayton police had not gotten to the shooter in under a minute, hundreds of people in the Oregon District would be dead today. This is the 250th mass shooting in America. It’s sad that it’s in the city of Dayton.” The suspect was wearing body armor and had extra magazines on him at the time when he was killed.
Police Chief Richard Biehl said at a press conference that patrol officers in the area for bar closing time heard gunshots about 1:05 a.m. “They observed a large crowd running away from this gunfire,” Biehl said. “The officers immediately advanced toward the gunfire and within approximately 20 seconds they engaged the suspect who was actively firing and attempting to enter a crowded liquor establishment. The threat was neutralized in approximately 30 seconds of the suspect firing his first shots.” Biehl released audio and video from the scene, as well as photos of the weapon used at a Sunday afternoon press conference:
Biehl said the suspect was wearing a mask, bullet proof vest and hearing protection. The .223 caliber rifle was equipped with 100 round drum magazines.
Biehl said the suspect’s vehicle was parked a few blocks away from where the shooting occurred. He fired his first shots and killed his first victim in an alleway near Blind Bob’s bar and then entered Fifth Street, where he shot and killed eight more victims, including his sister, near Ned Peppers before he was fatally shot by police. Several other people were injured. The wounds ranged from gunshots to injuries caused from falling and other panic-related wounds.
A sergeant and five officers have been put on paid leave pending the completion of the investigation.
Biehl said the rifle used in the shooting was ordered online in Texas, but transferred to the suspect at a local firearms dealer. A shotgun was also bought from another local firearms dealer. Biehl said there was nothing in his “history or record that would have precluded him” from owning the guns. And he said the drum magazines were also legal.
Scanner audio from the first moments of the mass shooting captures the horror.
“We have one with a head wound,” an officer said at one point on the scanner. “We just need all the medics. We need the first medic in Ned Peppers…right now. We’ve got several down,” an officer says. “Shooter is down.”
Daniel Williams wrote on Twitter: “There was an active shooter in the bar i was in tonight. I am told that he had an AR15. (A friend) and I are ok. I am so incredibly heartbroken for those affected by this. I have never been so scared in my life.”
Williams then responded to another person and wrote, “…I’m still not sure exactly what happened. People were piling on top of each other to get out. It’s all a blur. F-cking awful.”
Williams’ friend then tweeted, “We heard gunshots while on the patio.. ran indoors only to be shoved back out because the shots were coming from inside the bar. We ran for our lives and hopped a fence trampling multiple people in the process/hid anywhere we could.”
3. Connor Betts Graduated From Bellbrook High School, Where Students Considered Him a Bully & His Father Works for a Technology Corporation
According to online records, Connor Betts ran track at Bellbrook High School. Daily Beast reported that he lived with his parents and sister.
Demoy Howell told the Dayton Daily News that Betts was in the Junior ROTC program in high school, and the newspaper also reported that he was a lead in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” However, there was a dark side. A classmate told the Daily News that Betts had “fantasized about tying her up and slitting her throat” and he told her he was scared he had those thoughts. She said she was included on a hit list, but her concerns weren’t taken seriously when she reported them.
Former high school classmates described him as a misogynistic bully. “I went to high school with the shooter. He made a hit list of fellow students and was arrested. Somehow he was still able to legally purchase a gun, which he used to kill at least 9 people. Something needs to be done,” wrote one.
Chenoa Sandoval wrote on Facebook, “Before the Media portrays this full grown man as an innocent kid who was damaged in high school due to bullying I want to set the record straight right now. Connor Betts had a history of serious harrassment towards fellow female students. Some of which were my friends or siblings of friends. He had a notebook with detailed information on how he wanted to hurt fellow female students.”
A woman named Aubrey Williams wrote, “He loved scaring people. He thought it was funny and got off on it. He scared my sister so bad once, I think he held her in his car against her will. She started crying and he laughed at her. He was sick.” Another wrote, “wasnt our responsibility!! We WERE just kids!! It should not be a kids job to sfop a killer!! People did report him!!”
His parents’ Facebook accounts are active. Their names are Moira and Steve Betts. On Facebook, his mom posted pictures of pumpkins, family, Christmas ornaments, Christian religious statues and a graphic that declared “stop the alt right.” She labeled a photo of Betts and his sister Megan, “My loves.” His dad wrote on Facebook that he was a technical lead for a technologies corporation. Betts’ father posted about net neutrality and funny parody videos. He also shared a video that criticized the rhetoric of President Donald Trump. Here’s his dad’s post the day after Sandy Hook:
Terrified people flooded social media with accounts.
“Wow could’ve lost my life tonight at Ned peppers, I’m still shaking prayers for the ones who didn’t make it … thanks for reaching out I’m safe 😔” wrote one woman on Facebook. A man told friends on Facebook that he was too “busy trying to survive honestly smh I just know I saw them trying to resuscitate multiple people.”
James Williams, who said he was an eyewitness, wrote, “People this is awful I’ve never seen nothing like this in my whole life.” A video captured heavy gunfire (be aware that the language is very graphic in it.)
Another man wrote: “They just shot up ned peppers while I was in line…. police just killed dude 5 feet in front of me… I can’t go out in this city anymore 💯.”
Taylor Mayberry wrote, “Me and (friend’s name) made it out of Nedpeppers safe. Scariest thing of my life. Prayers for all of the people who didn’t make it out 😭.”
The Dayton shooting reports broke around 2 a.m. on the east coast. “Reports of an active shooter with multiple victims in Dayton so I’m laying in bed listening to scanners and hearing them call for homicide detectives. Is not even been 24 hours… This country has gone mad,” wrote one woman on Twitter.
“If you got fam at Oregon district.. check on them 🙏🏽,” wrote one man on Twitter. “I was on the phone w my boy & gun shots start going off right next to him.. hella rounds smh Dayton is cursed.”
4. Betts May Have Had a ‘Hit List’ in High School & Spoke About His Knowledge of Violent Tragedies to His Ex
The woman he briefly dated also told The Toledo Blade that Betts had bragged that he knew a lot about mass shootings. She shared a text message exchange with the newspaper, in which she asked, “Do you know tragedies from every city?”
“A fair bit of them! :D [smiley face],” he responded. She told the newspaper he was charming and outgoing, but said he told her he had put a gun in his mouth before and he once called her drunk and said he wanted “to hurt a bunch of people.”
In high school, Betts may have been suspended for drawing up a hit list on the bathroom wall, according to WCPO-TV. Chris Baker, the former principal, told the Journal-News, “I would not dispute that information, but I don’t want to get involved any more than just making that comment.” Bellbrook police said they are treating the Betts’ family as victims.
Dayton 24/7 Now spoke to classmates of Betts who alleged that “Betts was supposed to write a letter of apology to the people on the list. After being expelled, Betts was allowed back to school.” The site reported that Betts was not described as a loner. This site says the school incident occurred when people “found a notebook where he reportedly wrote a list of people who he wanted to rape, kill and skin their bodies.”
A former classmate told CNN the list was divided into a “kill list” for boys and a “rape list” for girls. Another classmate told CNN: “He loved to look at you and pretend to shoot with guns, guns with his hands.”
According to the Dayton Daily News, Betts “didn’t have a violent criminal background.” He had a couple speeding tickets in Centerville and no concealed weapon permit, the newspaper reported.
Graphic and disturbing videos circulated on social media. One of them captures the repeated sounds of heavy gunfire. Be aware that some of the language is very graphic.
“Shots fired! Shots fired!” an officer shouts in archived scanner audio, which you can listen to here. The dispatcher indicates the shooting occurred in the Oregon District. At one point, an officer said on the scanner that it looked like 9 to 10 people were shot.
A graphic video was posted to Facebook showing bodies lying on the sidewalk covered with sheets as uniformed police officers stood guard. “Sad people are not right,” wrote a man named James Williams on Facebook, who posted it, and said he was an eyewitness. “I’m safe happened Right in front of the patio where I was sitting in front of Neds the guy in front of Ned peppers door is the active shooter he tried to go into the bar but did not make it through the door someone took the gun from him and he got shot and is dead. There are at least eight people dead right by the picnic table where I was at on street. A bunch of people was taken to the hospital I don’t know how many this place is a disaster.”
The following video contains graphic language.
The man speaking in it talks about bodies lying on the street and says at least 40 shots were fired.
5. On Twitter, Betts Described Himself as a Leftist & Wrote About Hell & Guns
The El Paso shooter had a social media presence that indicated support for President Donald Trump and anti immigrant measures. Connor Betts’ Twitter page is very different; he indicates he’s a “leftist” and rails against QAnon, ICE, the industrial revolution, and police.
The page handle? I am the spookster. On one selfie, he included the hashtags, “#selfie4satan #HailSatan @SatanTweeting.” On the date of Republican Sen. John McCain’s death, he wrote, “F*ck John McCain.” The website Snopes has also confirmed the accuracy of the claims about Betts’ politics and tweets.
On Nov. 2, 2018, he wrote: “Vote blue for gods sake.” NBC News reporter Ben Collins also said on the air that Connor Betts had a social media presence and identified himself as part of the left, and that he “tweeted about Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.”
“This is America: Guns on every corner, guns in every house, no freedom but that to kill,” he wrote in December 2018. And, “’Tis! The pistol is a Beretta 93R, called the REK7 in BO4. Do love me some guns!” He also wrote, “Hammer, brick, gun.”
On Feb. 14, 2018, he tweeted this at Sen. Rob Portman: “@robportman hey rob. How much did they pay you to look the other way? 17 kids are dead. If not now, when?” That was the date of the mass shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida.
Heavy confirmed the Twitter page through multiple verification factors, including a matching tattoo on both a page selfie and prominent news outlets’ pictures of Connor Betts; several family linkages to the page; similar photos, including of him and the family dog, on the page and family members’ verified accounts, including its name; and references to college and growing up in Ohio and Dayton.
The Dayton Daily News reported that the shooter also had a very old MySpace account that contained “notebook sketches showing odd phrases handwritten in screamo music-style font” and contained captions saying things like: “All Shall Be Annihilated,” “Bloodlust,” “Absolute Carnage,” and “Bloody Massacre.”
Scanner audio painted a terrifying scene as officers found multiple victims at the scene.
“We got shots fired. We got multiple people down. We need multiple medics…We need to shut the whole street down….We think there’s one shooter. He’s down. We’re looking for a second shooter,” says an officer in the audio. (There are often incorrect reports of multiple shooters in the early moments of active shooter incidents, and it was clear that officers were trying to get a handle on a chaotic situation with possibly conflicting early information on that point. They now believe there is one shooter.)
In a separate video he posted on Facebook, Williams claimed, “We had an active shooter with an AR 15. Came up with an AR 15 with a vest on and ear muffs and just started blowing bullets everywhere…there are casualties everywhere. Outside Ned Peppers, there were at least eight victims. I don’t know how many people they took away from other locations… it’s awful.”
President Donald Trump said in an early-morning tweet on August 4, “God bless the people of El Paso Texas. God bless the people of Dayton, Ohio.” In response to the shooting, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said that flags in the state would be held at half-mast as a mark of respect for the dead. The governor also said that he had been in contact with President Trump regarding the shooting.