Ohio governor proposes a new red flag-like law after deadly Dayton shooting

Posted at 1:36 PM, Aug 06, 2019

Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine asked the state legislature on Tuesday to pass a version of a "red flag" law that would allow a court to temporarily take guns away from people who are an imminent danger to themselves or others.

DeWine said the safety protection order would apply to people who have mental health challenges, alcohol or drug problems and violent tendencies as well as access to firearms -- "a deadly combination," he said. He also proposed better mental health services and a law that requires background checks for all gun purchases in Ohio, with a few exceptions.

"We have to empower people to get help for family or loved ones who may be a danger to themselves or a danger to others," he said.

The proposals come days after a man used a high-powered rifle and extended magazines to open fire in a popular Dayton neighborhood early Sunday, killing his sister and eight other people in under 30 seconds.

It's not clear if DeWine's proposals would have applied to the gunman, 24-year-old Connor Betts, or prevented him from accessing a firearm.

Betts showed a deep interest in violence, and former classmates said he had a "hit list" in high school. But unlike the Parkland, Florida shooter who sparked the rise of red flag laws, Betts did not show immediate signs of a mental health crisis, and there was yet no evidence that family or police considered him an imminent threat to himself or others.

Still, the proposal comes a day after President Trump floated a similar proposal in the aftermath of this weekend's mass shootings. DeWine was pushed to act after his speech at a Dayton vigil Sunday was interrupted by people shouting "Do something!" at him.

On Tuesday, DeWine emphasized that courts would have to follow a clear due process to take away a person's firearm, an attempt to appease concerns brought by gun-rights advocates.

"These conditions must, because the Constitution demands it, be balanced against individual's right to keep and bear arms and their due process rights," he said.

Mayor approves proposals

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said she was pleased with the steps DeWine laid out on Tuesday, and said that DeWine acknowledged the proposals may not have stopped the shooting.

"He said 'look, I don't know if these things would have changed Dayton,' but I think Dayton happening has changed his movement on some of these things," she said.

"I'm pleased that we're talking about a conversation and a direction that I think is more appropriate around common sense gun reform," she added.

The proposals did not address Betts' access to an assault rifle or to large-capacity ammunition magazines, which are not illegal in Ohio.

Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl says Betts was able to shoot 41 shots in less than 30 seconds with a .223-caliber high-capacity rifle. He carried 100-round drum magazines, Biehl said. Although officers were able to stop Betts in that short time, his high-capacity rifle was able to do extensive damage in that short amount of time.

"It is fundamentally problematic," Biehl said. "To have that level of weaponry in a civilian environment, unregulated, is problematic."

Mayor Whaley said she is in favor of a ban on assault weapons like the rifle used in Dayton.

"The issue is if he didn't have a gun like that, we wouldn't see so much fast death that happened in 30 seconds that occurred," she said.

Police are still trying to determine Betts' motivation, but they said at a press conference Sunday that it did not appear that he had racial or political motivation for the shooting.

He was killed by police officers just 30 seconds after he opened fire as he tried to enter the bar, preventing what could have been even more deaths.

The suspect's sister, Megan Betts, 22, was among those killed in the rampage. Friends told CNN affiliate WCPO she was a "beacon of light in a dark room." Betts arrived to the area in the same car as his sister and a companion, police have said.

Area reopens to the public

All day long on Monday, a steady stream of pedestrians could be seen down the stretch of East 5th Street in Dayton near where the gunman opened fire on revelers.

As families prepare to bury their loved ones and other victims recover from their injuries, parts of the Oregon District have returned to business after the deadly attack left nine people dead and 31 injured.

Among the places to reopen Monday was Ned Peppers bar, one of the places the gunman targeted, CNN affiliate WKEF said.

Across the street from the bar, the gift store Heart Mercantile displayed a blackboard with the handwritten names of those killed on it.

Elsewhere, there were memorials, tributes and calls for action written in colored chalk along the sidewalk. One message featured a line through the phrase "thoughts + prayers" and the words "change + policy" underneath it.

"The Oregon District is open," Mayor Nan Whaley said at a news conference. Whaley said some businesses opened their doors Monday, a day they are normally closed, to try to recover from the shooting.

Annette Gibson ventured to the Oregon District after she saw on the news that Ned Peppers was reopening.

She told CNN she rushed downtown to relocate part of the pile of candles and flowers away from the entrance to ensure the memorial could remain even after patrons went inside.

"This memorial shouldn't be moved," she told CNN. "They're not even in the ground yet," she added, referring to the victims.

Gibson said she was grateful the bar was able to serve as a refuge for fleeing bystanders. She also praised the actions of police who quickly stopped the attack -- referring to the patrolmen as "angels."

Bar staff and bouncers are being hailed as heroes

Austin, the manager of Ned Peppers, told CNN that at least four staff members helped render first aid to victims in the immediate aftermath. The staff has several former military members, said Austin, who asked that his last name not be used.

A bouncer seen in surveillance video pulling people to safety suffered a shrapnel wound to his leg and is still being treated at Grand View Hospital, Austin said.

"When the shooter came around the corner and shot him, he slipped and fell and went to the ground," Austin said of the bouncer. "Prior to that, he was shoving people in, making sure that everybody was getting in and getting safe."

Austin says the team had to work quickly in the chaos following the shooting. "Not only were we the victims, we were the first responders as well."

The manager told CNN his staff performed life saving work and helped the injured as best they could.

"After the fact, I had a couple staff go out and two gentlemen performed CPR on the two ladies right outside," Austin recalled. "They performed CPR on them until they passed away. Once that happened, a couple more went down and were applying tourniquets out of towels and trying to stop bleeding."

Austin says reports that the shooter was denied entry are inaccurate, as a bouncer would usually remember the face of someone they didn't let in so that they wouldn't let them in if they tried again.

Nine people killed

In addition to Megan Betts, the other victims who lost their lives in the shooting range in age from 22-57.

Lois Oglesby, 27, was also killed. She had just given birth to her second child last month, according to the Washington Post.

"She was a nurse's aide and a very devoted mother," her uncle Joe Oglesby told the Post.

Sinclair Community College said in a statement that Oglesby and another victim, Logan Turner, 30, once attended the school

Turner had recently celebrated his 30th birthday, his mother told the Dayton Daily News.

Nicholas Cumer, 25 was celebrating the end of his internship with Maple Tree Cancer Alliance when he was caught in the gunfire. The Maple Tree Cancer Alliance said it offered him a full-time job last week to run one of its new offices.

Thomas McNichols, 25, a father of four described as a gentle giant, was also killed in the shooting. "I will tell his kids that they had an amazing dad," said his aunt, Donna Johnson. "We're just always going to honor his memory with love."

Beatrice N. Warren-Curtis, 36, and Monica E. Brickhouse, 39, were out together when they were gunned down.

Derrick Fudge, 57, was out to have a fun night with family when he was fatally shot after stepping outside of a club to get some food, his family said.

Saeed Saleh, 38, was identified by police as another of the fatal victims.