COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Dayton Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced they have officially closed the investigation into the deadly shooting in the city’s Oregon District in 2019.
Twenty-four-year-old Connor Betts used a .223-caliber firearm to kill nine people and injured 17 others at Ned Peppers Bar on Aug. 4.
Betts was shot and killed by police less than a minute after the first shots were fired.
According to a report from the FBI, the investigation involved over 125 interviews in multiple states, review of over 950 surveillance videos amounting to approximately 400 hours of footage and analysis of electronic devices, social media content and other evidence.
The FBI says the evidence indicated that Betts was solely responsible and was not directed by any organization or aligned to any specific ideological group.
An assessment by the FBI to determine Betts’ motivation found that his fascination with mass violence and his inability to cope with personal factors, including mental health issues, were likely the primary contributors to commit a mass shooting.
"While the investigation uncovered the attacker had a history of mental illness, as well as suicidal and violent fantasies, there were no specific warnings he intended to commit a crime. There was also no indication that the attacker discussed his intentions to conduct a violent attack with friends or family," the FBI said in a release.
The investigation revealed Betts fantasized about mass shootings, serial killings and murder-suicide for at least a decade without sharing details with friends or family.
Interviews with Betts’ friends and peers suggested “bystander fatigue” was potentially a major factor in why he was not reported to authorities. According to the FBI, the term is used to describe “passivity, inaction, or inattention to concerning behaviors observed by individuals who have a close, interpersonal relationship to a person of concern due to their prolonged exposure to the person’s erratic or otherwise troubling behavior over time.”
"This underscores the importance of bystanders’ attentiveness to more subtle changes an individual may exhibit that could be indicative of their decision to commit violence, such as a change in personal circumstances, an increase in perceived stressors, or language indicating they may be contemplating suicide,” the FBI said.
The investigation indicated that Betts likely violated federal law by lying about his drug use in early 2019 when he purchased the firearm used in the attack.
The additional firearm parts, body armor and 100-round magazine used in the attack were acquired on open market internet sites by a friend, Ethan Kollie.
Kollie was arrested for illegally possessing certain firearms, including temporarily possessing the one involved in the attack and lying on a federal firearms transaction form. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 32 months in prison in February 2020.
“Finding answers for the victims and their families has been a driving motivator each day,” stated FBI Cincinnati Special Agent in Charge J. William Rivers. “From the start, this has been a thorough and deliberate investigation. Due to technical challenges accessing lawfully acquired evidence that was encrypted, this investigation has taken significantly longer than expected. However, we are confident that it has uncovered the key facts and that we have done everything in our ability to provide answers to all those impacted by this horrible attack.”
Interim Dayton Police Chief Matt Carper issued the following statement on the closing of the investigation:
“First and foremost, our hearts go out to the victims of the Aug. 4, 2019, attack, to include their family members, friends and loved ones. Like so many other acts of violence that have taken place throughout our country, this too was senseless and unnecessary. These victims and their families will forever be in our thoughts and prayers. I would like to personally thank the officers who took immediate action to stop the violence, undoubtedly preventing further injury and loss of life on a scale that is tough to consider. We also commend the amazing work of the responding officers who walked into unknown danger to transport the wounded, comfort the frightened, and secure a massive crime scene for the important investigation that would follow.
We are grateful to the numerous local, state, and federal agencies, both law enforcement and victim services related, that answered the call and helped during our time of need. We are thankful for our resilient community, which stepped up and offered to help in the healing process in whatever ways they were able. This city will not be defined by one horrible event, instead we were able to define what it means to come together and be Dayton Strong.”