DAYTON — With music blaring, tears at times streaming, and survivors reunited, hundreds gathered along Fifth Street in Dayton’s Oregon District Wednesday evening to mark two years since a gunman claimed nine innocent live.
At an event called “Keeping the 9 Alive” hosted by The Fudge Foundation – founded by the son of Oregon District victim Derrick Fudge – the community paid tribute to the victims, survivors and family members impacted by the Aug. 4, 2019 mass shooting.
“Even though this is the second year anniversary…this is really the first anniversary for the community,” Dion Greene, Fudge’s son, said, pointing out COVID-19 protocols largely derailed any opportunity for a gathering in 2020.
“I just want people to come out here be able to cry, by able to hold be able to love,” Green said.
The event featured prayer, memories, and music – including one song with the lyrics “Dayton Strong.” Gun control advocates spoke about continued reform efforts, and the crowd chanted the names of the nine victims. Organizers also released nine balloons and doves as a symbol of the lives lost.
Several of the victims’ families attended – including loved ones of Lois Oglesby. Darryl Lee, father of Oglesby’s children, told News Center 7′s Sean Cudahy, he sees Oglesby in their children.
“I know she’s still here with them…not physically but…spiritually,” Lee said.
The gathering was also an opportunity for survivors to reunited. Dutch Woods first spoke with WHIO days after the Oregon District attack, and described being shot in the arm that night – but not realizing it until he was in the car. Woods was torn on coming to the Oregon District on this night, but decided to stop by. He was glad he did.
“Seeing a lot of people that was down here that night, makes you feel better about coming,” Wood said. “I’m just thankful to be alive, thankful to be here.”
While plenty in the crowd remained in the Oregon District for several hours Wednesday, the official program lasted just over two hours, and included remarks by Jeremy Ganger – who was on-duty at Ned Peppers the night of the attack, and has been hailed a hero for preventing the gunman from entering the crowded bar.
He chose to focus on others in his comments.
“I would trade my life…for any one of those nine,” Ganger said of the victims. He then spoke of the Dayton officers who neutralized the attacker.
“We had six heroes August 4th 2019,” he said of the responding officers. “We had six heroes!”
Two years after the Dayton community faced the unimaginable, Green described the pain from that night as a lingering scab. That’s why, he said, it was so important for people to gather to mark the occasion.
“To lift up loved ones,” he said. “That’s what this day is about.”
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