One year after mass shooting, frustration in Ohio city

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In this photo made on July 29, 2020, Dion Green stands outside his home in Dayton, Ohio. Green whose father died in a mass shooting on a night out together, spoke about the book he wrote about surviving tornadoes that shooting as the anniversary of the 2019 shooting approaches. (AP Photo/Dan Sewell)

DAYTON, Ohio – Tormented by mind-scarring memories and questions without answers, Dion Green has dedicated his life after the death of his father and eight other people in a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, to memorializing them and trying to bring helpful change.

“That purpose is my ‘Why?’” said Green, whose father died in his arms after he was caught in the barrage of bullets in Dayton's Oregon entertainment district in the early morning of Sunday, Aug. 4, one year ago. “I didn't die, so that's why I'm still here fighting.”

Besides the nine killed, 17 other people were wounded in barely half a minute before police fatally shot the gunman in front of a bar where, had he gotten inside, the toll could have risen rapidly. The mass shooting brought an outpouring of community grieving and support, along with a “Dayton Strong” slogan.

There is frustration and disappointment as the first anniversary Tuesday nears, much of it because of coronavirus-necessitated safety orders and restrictions against large public gatherings and late-night bar discussions.

“That's what's so tough about it,” Mayor Nan Whaley said. “This is a bad mix for COVID-19, frankly. We want to hug each other and to be with each other, and we just cannot do it.”

“I believe that, at least for some, this is going to be a very difficult one-year mark without that presence of community,” said Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl, who recounted an astoundingly large turnout for a community vigil the night following the shooting.

The city plans a series of activities people can share in at home. There will be a nine-minute remembrance at 8:04 p.m. — representing Aug. 4 — as well as candle-lighting and special online programming.

Whaley said land has been donated for a permanent memorial, but authorities want to be deliberate about deciding what to put there.