The gunman in last week’s massacre in Dayton, Ohio, texted his sister and another victim minutes before the shooting, the Dayton Police Department said in a news conference on Tuesday. The police also said the gunman was obsessed with mass shootings, but they declined to say what motivated the attack.
With the help of extensive video surveillance, the police offered an updated timeline of the gunman’s movements and actions in the hours before he killed nine people and wounded 17 others outside a bar in the city’s popular Oregon entertainment district on Sunday, Aug. 4.
The police said the gunman went to the district on Friday night and returned with his sister and a friend at 11:04 p.m. on Saturday. “He was not unfamiliar with this territory,” Chief Richard S. Biehl said.
After visiting a bar with them, the gunman left after midnight, the officials said, walking past a police vehicle to go to his car. They said he went there about 15 minutes before the shooting to retrieve an AR-15-style rifle, ammunition and body armor. He returned wearing a dark hoodie and carrying a backpack, which contained the weapon, they said.
His sister was among the first people he shot, Chief Biehl said. Though the gunman knew where she and her companion were, he said the department could not conclusively say whether she was a target.
“We have radically different views in this regard,” he said of the many officers who reviewed the video evidence. “Based on the evidence of that night, I don’t think we can make that call.”
The gunman started shooting at 1:05 a.m., striking 26 people in 32 seconds before he was fatally shot by an officer. The chief added that the gunman did not wear his body armor in the most protective manner.
“Their response was crucial,” Chief Biehl said of his officers. “Their response was immediate. Their response was effective. And their response was compassionate.”
Chief Biehl did not say whether any victims were struck by bullets fired by his officers, leaving that ruling to the coroner’s report.
The chief said that there was some evidence of drug paraphernalia in the gunman’s car, and that he was awaiting toxicology reports to state whether there was evidence of drug use. He said the gunman had “undergone some treatment” but would not elaborate.
Female classmates of the gunman have said he threatened women with violence, but the chief did not speak about a specific motive during Tuesday’s news conference.
“There’s this history of obsession with violence and violence ideations, a discussion of an interest in mass shootings and the expression of a desire to carry out a mass shooting,” Chief Biehl said. “I think that should be enough thematically that you should get a pretty clear picture of what was going on here.”
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