Dayton Shooting: Suspect ID’d, reportedly had prior hit-list

Published: Sunday, August 04, 2019 @ 11:13 AM
Updated: Sunday, August 04, 2019 @ 2:13 PM

The identity of the suspect in the Oregon District shooting has been released.

The identity of the suspect in the Oregon District shooting has been released.

The shooting suspect has been identified as Connor Betts, 24, of Bellbrook, government sources confirmed.

>> Dayton Shooting: 9 victims, 1 shooter dead, 27 injured in Oregon District

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Chris Baker, who just resigned this summer after 14 years as Bellbrook High School principal, was asked about Betts’ time as a Bellbrook student.

Asked about reports that, while a Bellbrook student, Betts was suspended for causing a lockdown by writing a “hit-list” on a bathroom wall, Baker said, “I would not dispute that information, but I don’t want to get involved any more than just making that comment.”

A woman who went to high school with Betts recalled the hit-list.

“I know he made the list,” she said. “I’m not sure who the names were on there...He had a plan to shoot up the school.”

When she first heard about the shooting, she said Betts’ name came to her mind.

“I guessed it might’ve been him just from that list,” she said.

She added that Betts was bullied at the high school and that he seemed “pretty normal” after he “got some help from making list.”

Demoy Howell was a year behind Connor Betts at Bellbrook High School, where they were in Junior ROTC together. 

“He was always a little bit of an oddball,” said Howell, who graduated in 2014. “He had a dark sense of humor - jokes about people dying. He would wear all black. I remember sensing a dark energy around him.” 

He never had a problem with Betts, but remembers friends saying he made them feel threatened or uncomfortable. The rigor of the military program seemed to have a calming influence, as Betts didn’t seem to have many friends, he added. 

“Even though we all knew he was kind of weird, I felt like the colonels kind of kept him together,” Howell said. “There was a lockdown one year and it was because he wrote something in the bathroom. Then he kind of fell off the face of the earth. I don’t remember him walking (at graduation).” 

Later, Howell said, the two worked together at a fast-food restaurant. 

“Generally there was no issue,” he said. “He kind of kept it together.” 

Betts also worked at a gas station where Howell would sometimes stop in to grab a drink. 

“He was normal there, too,” he said. “He kept on a professional face.” 

He and his friends frequent the Oregon District where, authorities say, Betts opened fire overnight and left nine dead. Police officers in the area fatally shot Betts within a minute. After getting off work on Saturday night, Howell had decided against heading to Oregon. Hours later, he heard the news. 

“I think this is less of a hate crime and more of an ‘I hate everybody’ crime,” Howell said. “I honestly feel more comfortable now knowing that he’s gone.”

Elizabeth Betz, a longtime Bellbrook school board member, said she only had passing memory of Betts, from an elementary school event, and from graduation, simply because their last names are pronounced the same. She said she was unaware of any incidents with Betts while he was in Bellbrook schools.

>> Dayton Shooting: Names of the victims released

A Bellbrook man who said he knew Betts for nearly two decades said that he knew him as a nice and quiet person.

Interview with friend of suspect Connor Betts

“The Connor Betts that I know was a nice kid,” the man said. “The Connor Betts that I talked to I always got along with well.”

The pair rode the bus together and mainly talked about music and pop culture.

The man said that he hadn’t seen Betts since graduation, but that he spoke to him a about 10 months ago.

He said it was a casual conversation and wasn’t aware of any possible personal issues going on in Betts’ life.

>> Dayton shooting: How to help our neighbors

While he didn’t know if Betts had any mental health issues, the man said he thought the shooting reinforced the need to talk openly about mental health.

“The biggest thing is to focus on mental health and to help people who are going through the problems and going through the struggles,” he said.

Several Bellbrook police cruisers were at an address on Creekview Place as part of an investigation into the shooting at the Oregon District that left nine people dead and numerous other injured.

>> Dayton Shooting: 1 in critical condition at Miami Valley Hospital following Oregon District shooting

Multiple investigators have been at the home in the 2200 block of Creekview since around 6 a.m. this morning.

SEAN CUDAHY / STAFF PHOTO

Bellbrook Police Chief Doug Doherty said Betts lives on the street.

The home belongs to Stephen R. Betts, according to online property records.

Doherty said the house and several vehicles on the property have been searched as part of the investigation.

Betts didn’t have a violent criminal background, according to a background check purchased by the Dayton Daily News and News Center 7.

Kettering Municipal Court records say Betts had two speeding tickets issued by Centerville police in 2013 and 2014.

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The background check turned up no concealed weapons permits.

Betts was formerly enrolled at Sinclair Community College, according to a college spokesperson. He started in summer of 2017, but was not enrolled this summer. He studied psychology.

Around 10:40 a.m., Betts’ Facebook profile was no longer accessible.