DAYTON, Ohio — When Dayton Police Department Chief Richard Biehl recalls the Oregon District shooting, he still has feelings of disbelief.

What You Need To Know

  • Dayton Police Department Chief Richard Biehl said the investigation into the Oregon District shooting is still open, one year later

  • Police have yet to determine the motive of the shooter

  • Police and Fire both said the mass shooting was an attack on the heart of Dayton

  • While healing continues, Biehl said the victims from the shooting will never be forgotten

“It was almost like this can’t be real, but it was,” Biehl said.  

Biehl was in Washington D.C. when he got the call that there had been a mass shooting in the Oregon District.

Dayton Fire Department Chief Jeff Lykins was on the scene that fateful night. He, too, was in disbelief.

“Even though you know it happens, you just don’t ever think it’s going to happen here,” Lykins said.  

Biehl said he never imagined a mass shooting in the Oregon.

“For this mass attack to occur there, it was really attacking the heart of Dayton and really the region because the Oregon District pulls people from the entire region,” Biehl said.  

The shooting lasted 32 seconds, but the gunman’s rampage claimed the lives of nine innocent people, including his own sister. If it were not for the quick actions of the Dayton Police Department, potentially hundreds of people could have been killed.

“The almost instantaneous response—not one, but six officers—to a mass shooter who was shooting individuals at more than one per second,” Biehl said. “Their engagement in approximately 20 seconds ending that threat from the first shot to the last shot was crucial in preventing an exponential increase in gunshot wound victims and deaths. It made all the difference.”

One year later, the investigation of the shooting is still open, and while they have been able to understand the mindset of the shooter, the motive is still not clear.

“Why this place, why this day, why this time and why these individuals? Because none of it really makes sense when you understand the individual and then who are victims,” Biehl said. “You just can’t easily comprehend what is the motive there.”  

Dealing with a mass casualty situation is extremely difficult. Chief Biehl said his officers are doing fine now but they felt immense grief for the victims.

“You didn’t have to know anyone personally to feel it,” he said. “The appropriate response to that is grief. So there needs to be an honoring of that grief process. We’re in a profession that times that isn’t recognized. That is very normal, very human and very needed process.”

One year later, Chief Lykins said the healing continues for first responders and the community.

“The city’s very resilient; the entire Dayton Strong mentality is evident everywhere across the city of Dayton,” he said. “And so I think we’re healing. The COVID response, certainly, I don’t think is helping because people are distanced from each other. And sometimes you just need to be together. And so we’ll get through it, and I think we’ll make steps toward improvement every day.”

Biehl said the victims from the Oregon District shooting will not be forgotten and says the Dayton Police Department will do all they can to ensure safety, but more has to be done to make safer gun laws.

“It’s not just what law enforcement and the community can do together,” Biehl said. “There is action needed from other levels of government more broadly to make it a safer environment for everyone. And that work is not completed. We’re not going to be satisfied until it is.”