Oregon District mass shooting: Time has not healed wounds for victims’ families

Today is the two-year anniversary of the worst day of Michael Turner’s life, and the grief and loss he felt immediately after his son was killed in the Oregon District mass shooting has not faded, even with time.

“I think about my son every hour of every day,” said Turner, whose son and only child, Logan Turner, was one of the nine people killed in the bloody rampage. “It’s an everyday battle.”

Turner expects the emotional battle to be especially hard and intense today since there will be painful reminders that his son died exactly two years ago.

Turner, however, hopes to find comfort at an event in Oregon the District hosted by Dion Green that will commemorate and celebrate the nine lives lost in the tragedy.

“It’s a moment to reflect, to bring people together to say what’s in their hearts, to empower each other and have each other to lean on,” said Green, whose father died in his arms on Fifth Street.

Two years ago, the unthinkable happened.

At about 1:04 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, Connor Betts opened fire in the Oregon District, killing nine people and injuring many others before he was fatally shot by police.

The slain were Logan Turner, Beatrice Nicole Warren-Curtis, Lois Oglesby, Thomas “TeeJay” McNichols, Derrick Fudge, Nicholas Cumer, Monica Brickhouse, Megan Betts and Saeed Saleh.

The attack shocked and horrified the community and forever changed many lives.

Authorities have not identified possible motives, but Betts had a history of drug use, mental health issues and threats of violence against woman and others, which included a rape and “hit” list he created containing other students’ names.

The FBI says the investigation into the shooting is still ongoing two years later.

The FBI and its law enforcement partners are “very mindful” of the anniversary and its significance to the community, said Todd Lindgren, with public affairs for the FBI’s Cincinnati office.

The FBI is working to provide a final assessment of the investigation and hopes to have details to release in the near future, he said.

The investigation into the tragedy has involved numerous interviews across the nation and the examination of a large amount of evidence that was recovered, according to the Dayton Police Department, which conducted a joint investigation with the FBI.

“These factors heavily influenced the timeframe of this investigation,” the department said. “The Dayton Police Department is in constant communication with our partners in the FBI and anticipate the investigation being completed in the near future.”

The FBI didn’t release its investigation into the May 31, 2019, mass shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center until a couple of months ago.

An FBI investigation into the 2017 mass shooting during a concert in Las Vegas, Nevada, was released 16 months after the incident.

The FBI still hadn’t released a report into the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orland 32 months after the June 2016 incident, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

But it’s clear that Betts had significant mental health problems and he should have been committed to a mental health facility or locked up, said Michael Turner.

Mental health is a big and overlooked challenge facing this country and more needs to be done to ensure that people with severe issues get the help they need, Turner’s family said.

Turner said he blames Betts’ parents, the high school he attended (Bellbrook) and the judicial system for not recognizing the danger he posed and intervening.

Nothing has really changed in the two years since the shooting, Turner said, since the gun background check process still has problems and it’s still far too easy to be able to acquire firearms and accessories online without proper screening.

Turner, who says he is a supporter of the Second Amendment, is one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit that was filed this week against the maker of the 100-round drum Betts used in his killing spree.

Family members of three other victims also are parties in the suit, which claims the high-capacity magazine contributed to the heavy death toll and “warzone-like” violence.

Turner said his son was a kind and generous person who was well liked. He used to talk to his son every day.

Turner still talks to his son in his prayers and sometimes in his dreams.

He constantly thinks about what he could have done or said to convince his son to stay home that night.

Kathy Turner, Logan’s stepmother, said Logan’s absence makes every day difficult.

“People ask, ‘How’s it going?’” she said. “It’s never going to get better.”

“You realize even more this is forever,” she said. “He’s never coming back.”

But Michael Turner said he looks forward to honoring his son’s memory at Green’s event this evening outside of Blind Bob’s.

Turner hopes there will be good discussions and a lot of hugs.

The “Keeping the 9 Alive” event along the 400 block of East Fifth Street will include community speakers, prayer, a candle-lighting ceremony, a DJ, a moment of silence for victims and a raffle, said Green, who expects some family members of victims and survivors to attend.

But everyone grieves differently, he said, and some people who were injured that night or lost loved ones or who saw horrible violence have not yet felt comfortable returning to the Oregon District.

Green didn’t return to the district after the shooting until the one-year anniversary. He said visiting led to a wave of emotions and memories.

Green said he hopes today’s event will have a joyful mood and will be uplifting, though he realizes that many people are struggling with strong emotions and they may feel overwhelmed at times.

“Crying is part of healing, so crying is OK, but I want people to leave feeling empowered and feeling loved,” Green said.

He said he expects a strong turnout since last year’s commemoration events were limited due to COVID-19 restrictions and fears.

He hopes people attend to show support for the lives lost and the community members who are still mourning.

“Somebody asked me, ‘Dion what do you expect?’” he said. “I shared with them, ‘It’s like a middle school teenager going to high school for the first day ― I’ve got butterflies and I don’t know what to expect. But I know there will be emotions.”

Fifth Street in the Oregon District will be closed between Jackson and Brown streets from 2 p.m. today until about 9 p.m. for the event.

The event is expected to last from about 6 to 8 p.m.

A committee also has been formed to start developing a permanent memorial in the Oregon District to honor the victims of the shooting, said Sandy Gudorf, president of the Downtown Dayton Partnership.

“We are the very beginning of the process,” she said.

Earlier discussions suggested a memorial may be installed near the rail underpass on the west end of the Fifth Street business district.

A moment of silence also is expected to be held at 5:30 p.m. today at the gazebo at 140 Brown St. in the Oregon District.

Remembering Oregon District shooting victims

Fifth Street in the Oregon District will be closed between Jackson and Brown streets from 2 to 9 p.m. today.

The Keeping the 9 Alive event will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. along the 400 block of East Fifth Street and include community speakers, prayer, a candle-lighting ceremony, a DJ, a moment of silence for victims and a raffle.

A moment of silence will be held at 5:30 p.m. today at the gazebo at 140 Brown St. in the Oregon District.

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