Dayton leaders praise community support following shooting, other tragedies

The community support has kept city leaders and officers going even in the midst of tragedy.
The community support has kept city leaders and officers going even in the midst of tragedy.

After a year filled with despair, Dayton faces another tragedy following Monday’s shooting of a police officer.

“This is a difficult period for this city. We are experiencing yet another tragedy in a year of unprecedented tragedy,” said Shelley Dickstein, Dayton city manager. “2019 has been an especially difficult year for our police department. The extraordinary number and frequency of tragic events have fallen squarely on their shoulders, leaving little room for personal reflection, grieving or quite frankly recovery.”

Three months before Dayton police officer Jorge DelRio, 55, was shot Monday night, nine people were killed in the Oregon District in an early morning mass shooting. Dayton police shot and killed gunman Connor Betts less than a minute after he opened fire.

Earlier this year, several Memorial Day tornadoes tore through the Miami Valley leaving nearly 4,000 Montgomery County residences damaged and many area residents homeless.

In late August, 32-year-old Raymond Walters stole a Riverside police cruiser that ended near the Dayton Metro Library downtown, killing two children and injuring five others.

“We are this year less worried about delivering on our strategic work plans as we are in taking care of one another,” Dickstein said.

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City leaders have bolstered professional services contracts, continuously talked about taking care of each other, checked on employees to make sure they have support networks and ensured that there is nobody “carrying this stress alone,” she said.

There was a major outpouring of support from the community following the Aug. 4 Oregon District mass shooting, Biehl said. People were looking for any way to help, including financial donations, food, other needs and gifts that were reminders that somebody cares, Biehl said.

That community support gives city leaders the strength to get up every day, Dickstein said.

“There’s a difference between morale and response, or morale and how we handle this tragedy,” Biehl said. “I can tell you morale — that lobby was filled. Parking lot was filled with officers. That’s the unity of this agency, this region.”

»RELATED: Dayton police officers have been shot and killed in the line of duty

DelRio remains in critical condition at Grandview Medical Center. The four men in the basement at the time of the shooting, including the suspected shooter, Nathan S. Goddard Jr., are in custody.

DelRio’s injuries are grave, Biehl said.

“While I am confident in their commitment and professionalism to get the job done, I remain concerned at the toll this year has taken,” Dickstein said.