Oregon District Shooting: Ned Peppers Bouncer reflects on anniversary

DAYTON — One of the every-day folks who became a hero the night of the Oregon District mass shooting is Jeremy Ganger.

Ganger lives in Troy and was one of the bouncers at the front door of Ned Peppers as the shooter tried to get into the packed bar to continue his killing spree.

Ganger, along with six Dayton police officers, helped make sure that did not happen.

Ganger told News Center 7's John Bedell the year since the shooting has had its ups and downs. He said the last week as the one-year mark has approached has been especially difficult.

"Not too great. I mean it's been an emotional battle," Ganger said when Bedell asked him how he's doing. "Some days are great. Some days are bad. But you know since last week it's been really rough. Knowing this time was coming but it's also a way for us to celebrate the nine that passed away. That's what today should be about: remembering the lives that were lost," Ganger said.

Ned Peppers and some other businesses in the Oregon District were closed Tuesday in honor of the nine victims who were killed. A pair of signs posted on the front door of Ned Peppers read in part, "We will be closing our doors on August 4th in remembrance of those who lost their lives one year ago. I challenge everyone to take the day and spend it doing something you enjoy. Spend time with family and friends, call someone you haven't talked to in a while. Stay strong Dayton."

"I remember everything about that night," Ganger said. "From beginning to end. I remember it all just like it happened yesterday. Something I don't think I'll ever forget. Nothing I thought I'd be part of."

But our community sure is thankful Jeremy Ganger was part it. Because Ganger stepped up that night and saved lives.

As the shooter charged Ned Peppers, security video showed Ganger standing his ground and shepherding folks to safety inside.

As Connor Betts got to the door, Ganger was on the other side waiting, as six Dayton police officers shot and killed Betts.

"It felt like he paused for a split second when he came around the corner," Ganger said "I think he was surprised someone was standing there. He was not coming in that bar. No matter what. The police were there within seconds I mean I was just standing my ground to help slow him down for the police officers."

After the shooting, Ganger spent three days in the hospital recovering from an injury he suffered to his leg from some shrapnel.

Ganger has been recognized for his heroism the night of the attack multiple times. One of the times he was honored locally was at the University of Dayton during the Flyers' last home game on March 7 at UD Arena. It was Senior Night at the arena and in the middle of what became the final show Obi Toppin and the Flyers put on last season, UD called Ganger to mid-court during a media timeout.

An athletic department representative presented Ganger with a basketball signed by the team and Dayton Head Coach Anthony Grant. The crowd gave him a standing ovation as the public address announcer read a message honoring Ganger and recalling his heroics. The crowd noise was deafening during that ovation.

"That night at UD was amazing for me," Ganger said. "Just to see and recognize that the community rallied behind me and stood behind me and cheered for me. It was just an amazing feeling and it lifted my spirits up great that day."

Ganger said those are the kind of moments that have helped his recovery. So has his insistence on returning to the Oregon District where he still works as a bouncer at Ned Peppers.

One of Dayton's resilient defenders is still standing strong at the bar's front door.

“The reason I keep coming down here is my way of showing hey we are strong,” Ganger said. “And most importantly I’m not going to let some animal take away my time to come down and interact with my community and be here and do what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s my way of not letting him beat me. If I don’t come to work, he won. And I’m not letting him beat me.”

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