Police Say Dayton Shooter Was Obsessed With Violence

A mourner leaves a makeshift memorial, for the slain and injured after a mass shooting that occurred in Dayton, Ohio, on Aug. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

DAYTON, Ohio (CN) – In an update on the investigation into a mass shooting that left nine people dead in Dayton, Ohio, the city’s police department said Tuesday that the deceased gunman had an “obsession with violence and violent ideations.”

Police provided a timeline and video of Connor Betts’ whereabouts in the early morning hours of Aug. 4, pieced together from several surveillance cameras.

This undated photo shows Connor Betts, the 24-year-old masked gunman in body armor who killed several people, including his sister, before he was slain by police. (Dayton Police Department via AP, File)

Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl said officers sifted through more than 250 gigabytes of video evidence to confirm the movements of the shooter, who initially arrived at a bar with his sister and a friend.

The trio separated when Betts, 24, returned to their car, changed clothes, and then left the vehicle with a backpack.

Betts stopped in an alley for over eight minutes, during which police say he assembled the AR-15 style weapon and drum magazine.

He then exited the alley at 1:04am and started shooting.

Biehl said Betts knew the city’s Oregon entertainment district very well, and had been there the night before the shooting.

Lieutenant Paul Saunders narrated the combined video evidence, which included police officers responding to the incident and eventually shooting and killing Betts.

Saunders said he believes the shooting lasted just 32 seconds, and the video and audio evidence has been turned over to the FBI.

When asked about a motive, Biehl was quick to distinguish between the concepts of motivation and mindset.

He admitted investigators may never know Betts’ motive, but said “we have a lot of information about mindset … and his progression.”

“This was a plan well before he got to the Oregon district,” Biehl said, adding that Betts had a “history of obsession with violence and violent ideations.”

The police chief was also asked about Betts’ mental health, and told reporters that he was “not aware of any diagnosis” but that he had “undergone some treatment.”

Biehl couldn’t say for certain whether victim Megan Betts, the shooter’s 22-year-old sister, was an intended target.

He said Betts and his sister exchanged texts after they separated, and that “it’s very clear seven minutes before the shooting he knew [Megan and their companion] were there.”

“A lot of us have been involved in this dialogue,” Biehl said. “We all have been reviewing this evidence … [and it] has been debated in both directions. If we can’t seem to make that call conclusively…I think it’s inconclusive.”

Biehl told reporters that drug paraphernalia was found on Betts’ person, but refrained from making any definitive statement regarding his drug use or its contribution to the crime.

He added that the toxicology report was expected to be completed within two weeks.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley made remarks both at the outset and conclusion of Tuesday’s press conference, and lauded the city’s first responders and unity following the shooting.

Whaley said that while first responders appreciated last week’s visit by President Donald Trump, “it was difficult on the community … because everyone has strong feelings on the president. When we’re talking about bringing the community together, he’s not helpful there.”

Biehl also commended the city and its people for their response to the tragedy.

“This community is remarkable, just remarkable,” the police chief said as he struggled to hold back tears. “I’m amazed at their response. This is a beautiful community.”

Ethan Kollie, a friend of Betts, allegedly purchased body armor and the weapons used in the shooting as a way of hiding the guns from Betts’s parents.

Kollie, also 24, was arrested Friday in Beavercreek, Ohio, and will appear in federal court on Wednesday on a charge of lying on a federal firearm form.

Nicholas Gounaris, Kollie’s defense attorney, told reporters on Tuesday that his client is cooperating with authorities and was not aware of Betts’ plan.

“He does not deny his friendship with Connor Betts,” the attorney said, “and he was as shocked and surprised as everyone else that Mr. Betts committed the violent and senseless massacre in the Oregon district.”

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