DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Pain and anger from the weekend’s mass shooting were visible and audible Wednesday as people in Dayton, Ohio, greeted President Donald Trump’s visit with the city’s new rallying cry: “Do something!”
Trump’s visits to Ohio and Texas , where a combined 31 people were killed and dozens wounded in less than 24 hours over the weekend, were regarded warily by local officials concerned about the often-combative president’s rhetoric while emotions are raw. Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a Democrat, had questioned the visit and expressed disappointment in the Republican president’s remarks in the shooting’s aftermath that included an erroneous reference to Toledo instead of Dayton.
Some 200 protesters gathered outside Miami Valley Hospital as the president and first lady Melania Trump met with medical staffers. There were smaller demonstrations elsewhere around the city.
Trump’s visit came days after a 24-year-old gunman opened fire early Sunday in the city’s popular Oregon entertainment district, killing nine and injuring 37 before police patrolling the area fatally shot him within 30 seconds of the melee. Authorities said 14 people were treated for gunshot wounds and the other injuries were sustained while people were fleeing the scene. Three people remained hospitalized at Miami Valley Wednesday in stable condition and one person was in fair condition in another hospital.
Holding a sign that said “Not Welcome Here” outside Miami Valley, Lynnell Graham said she thinks Trump’s response to the shootings has been insincere.
Dorothee Bouquet stood in the bright sun with her two young children. She says she told them the protest was “to tell grown-ups to make better rules.”
They also chanted “Do Something!” That chant began as the state’s Republican governor spoke at a Sunday evening vigil.
Among the victims of Connor Betts was his 22-year-old sister.
The family of Betts and his sister, Megan Betts, released a statement through police Tuesday night, saying they are devastated and cooperating with law enforcement’s investigation.
It’s unknown whether any of the Dayton victims were targeted. Besides Megan Betts, the others who died were Monica Brickhouse, 39; Nicholas Cumer, 25; Derrick Fudge, 57; Thomas McNichols, 25; Lois Oglesby, 27; Saeed Saleh, 38; Logan Turner, 30; and Beatrice N. Warren-Curtis, 36.
The FBI announced Tuesday it’s opened an investigation into Betts’ desire to commit a mass shooting and his interest in violent ideology.
GOP Gov. Mike DeWine said it’s clear Betts exhibited anti-social behaviors in high school that should have alerted those around him to a problem. Two former classmates told The Associated Press that Betts was suspended from Bellbrook High School after a hit list was found scrawled in a school bathroom. That followed an earlier suspension after Betts came to school with a list of female students he wanted to sexually assault, according to the two classmates, a man and a woman who spoke on condition of anonymity out of concern they might face harassment.
But Betts had no apparent criminal record as an adult, and police said there was nothing that would have prevented him from buying a gun.
DeWine on Tuesday called on the Republican-led Legislature to pass laws requiring background checks for nearly all gun sales, allowing courts to restrict firearms access for people perceived as threats, and improving access to in-patient psychiatric care for those who need it most.
Special Agent Todd Wickerham, who announced the FBI investigation, didn’t say if agents are looking at whether the Dayton shooting should be treated as domestic terrorism, as the agency has done in the recent El Paso, Texas, and Gilroy, California, shootings. He said Betts hadn’t previously been on the FBI’s radar. He also said no evidence had emerged that the attack was racially motivated.
A woman who said she met Betts in a college psychology class and briefly dated him earlier this year spoke to reporters Tuesday and wrote an online essay, saying the two bonded over struggles with mental illness .
Adelia Johnson, 24, said she was in treatment but that Betts “didn’t want to seek help because of the stigma.” He told her he thought he had mental illnesses including bipolar disorder, she said.
On their first date, Johnson said Betts showed her a video of last October’s Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in which a man shouting anti-Semitic slurs opened fire and killed 11 people.
“When he started joking about his dark thoughts, I understood,” she wrote. “Dark thoughts for someone with a mental illness are just a symptom that we have to learn how to manage.”
Associated Press writers Dan Sewell in Cincinnati, Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus and Robert Bumsted in Dayton contributed.
Find complete AP coverage of recent mass shootings here: https://apnews.com/Shootings
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