A mourner sits a candle in the doorway of Ned Peppers Bar in Dayton, Ohio, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. The spot is where alleged gunman Connor Betts, at left, died after being shot by police during an early morning mass shooting that killed nine people.
Photo: AP Photo, Scott Olson/Getty Images
Photo: AP Photo, Scott Olson/Getty Images

Dayton gunman discussed shooting up UD bar, friend tells police

Ex-friends of Connor Betts say behavior was troubling.

Friends of the Dayton Oregon District shooter cut ties with him earlier this year because he’d unexpectedly brandished guns and once talked about shooting up Timothy’s, a popular bar among University of Dayton students, a former friend told the Dayton Daily News.

Other people — far from friendly with Connor Betts, the shooter — recalled to the Dayton Daily News how they’d been concerned about him and his bizarre behavior for years, even reporting him to local police.

>> New details emerge about Dayton shooting victims

Nine people were killed when Connor Betts, left, allegedly opened fire outside a bar in Dayton, Ohio, early Sunday. Mourners have been leaving candles and flowers outside Ned Peppers, where the shooting occurred, in memory of the victims. AP Photo, Scott Olson/Getty Images

Betts, 24, shot and killed nine people, including his sister, in a less-than-a-minute rampage Sunday in the Oregon District. Police shot him outside Ned Peppers, 419 E. 5th St., a popular Oregon District bar where many of the victims were shot. Police haven’t publicly disclosed a motive.

» RELATED: Dayton shooter obsessed with killing, classmates say

For more than 50 years, Timothy’s bar has been a home away from home for tens of thousands of University of Dayton students. ALEXIS LARSEN/STAFF
Photo: Staff Writer

The last straw in Will El-Fakir’s relationship with Betts was when he pulled out a gun and held it near El-Fakir’s head about five months ago, he said.

El-Fakir told the Dayton Daily News he relayed that story to Dayton police Sunday afternoon. El-Fakir said he knew Betts from Bellbrook High School, where they graduated together. El-Fakir attended the University of Dayton and graduated this year. Betts enrolled in Sinclair Community College a few years after Bellbrook, something Sinclair officials said is normal among their students.

» RELATED: 5 things to know about Dayton shooter Connor Betts

“He was getting a little violent with friends,” El-Fakir said. “He started bringing guns around us for no particular reason.”

When the pair cut ties five months ago, it wasn’t the first time they’d had problems. A few years earlier, El-Fakir said, Betts was using drugs and “was definitely not in a right state of mind.” Police haven’t confirmed any past or contemporary drug use by Betts.

But they eventually became friends again and would hang out in UD’s student neighborhood. That is, until about five months ago, when El-Fakir said he found some of Betts’ comments increasingly troubling.

» RELATED: Suspect’s sister, a Wright State student, killed in Oregon District shooting

One such conversation, El-Fakir said, happened at Timothy’s Bar and Grill, 1818 Brown St., a popular student dance bar.

“There were times when he went to bars and just scoped the place out,” El-Fakir said. “He’d say, ‘If I brought this-or-that through here, it would have done some damage.’”

El-Fakir said he asked Betts if he was being serious, but Betts didn’t reply. “No one really took him seriously,” El-Fakir said. “We were all young guys and we had known each other for years. It’s not something you’d see your friends doing.”

Connor Betts
Photo: Staff Writer

Before the split, they had occasionally discussed politics.

El-Fakir, who said he’s personally pro-2nd Amendment, described Betts as “definitely not a right-leaning person. His political views definitely leaned to the left. And believe it or not, he was actually pro-gun control. He was actually anti-2nd Amendment.”

“I don’t know if this is the motive that made him snap,” El-Fakir said, “(but I think) he donned himself with that ballistic vest just to show people how easy it was to arm themselves. It’s pure speculation.”

“He never once spit out a conservative opinion on gun control,” El-Fakir said.

>> Dayton police chief: Weapon of this type ‘fundamentally problematic’

The Dayton Daily News first reported online Sunday that Betts had been suspended from Bellbrook High School for having a “hit list” of girls. The newspaper attempted to obtain records about that incident.

In reply to requests for records about the incident, the Sugarcreek Twp. Police Department and Greene County Juvenile Court clerk both provided the Dayton Daily News with a denial, citing state law that addresses records expungement. Bellbrook police said they had no records related to the incident.

The Dayton Daily News and several major national publications additionally requested records from Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools, but superintendent Douglas Cozad declined, in part because the district hadn’t received formal documentation of the Betts’ death.

David Partridge said he was one of the people who called police and turned Betts in over the “hit list.”

The 26-year-old who now lives in Dayton’s Belmont neighborhood said when he heard the name of the shooter, he instantly remembered the incident from 2009.

A female classmate called Partridge and said Betts “has your relative on this hit list and there’s graphic violence in there, stuff about how he wants to harm or kill people,” Partridge recalled.

When he confronted Betts on the phone about the list, he said he remembers Betts acting surprised and trying to deny it. Their phone conversation took place while Betts rode the bus to school one morning, where Partridge said police officers met him and took him into custody.

Another classmate, who spoke to the Dayton Daily News on condition that her name not be used for fear of retaliation, confirmed Partridge’s account. Partridge and others disputed ex-Bellbrook High School principal Chris Baker’s recollection that the incident involved writing on a bathroom door. He and other students said that incident was in 2012 and involved a different student. Reached again Monday, Baker wouldn’t clarify and referred questions to the superintendent.

Prior to the 2009 incident, Partridge said he didn’t know Betts very well.

“He was maybe just a little strange, kind of quiet, sometimes slightly inappropriate like jokes,” Partridge said. “When this list was brought to my attention, it was genuinely surprising to me.”

Partridge graduated the following year as a junior and said he never saw Betts at school again after that day. He saw him two times in the years since at places that Betts worked. Once after visiting Chipotle with the relative who was threatened in the list, Partridge remembered getting a Facebook message from Betts saying it was “nice to see you,” which he found strange.

“I want people in Dayton and I want people in America all to know that this could have been prevented possibly,” Partridge said.

“He bought these firearms legally, and this was an individual that had a repeated pattern of violent thoughts, speaking and behavior, for years,” he said. “Somebody knew that he was collecting weapons. People were around him when he was continuing to say disturbing, violent things.”

MORE ON THE DAYTON SHOOTING

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»Oregon District businesses issue response to deadly attack

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