POLITICS

Almost 36 Hours After Dayton Massacre, Shooter's Motive Still Not Clear

The city's police chief said the gunman's ability to obtain and modify the weapon used in the attack was "fundamentally problematic."

Law enforcement officials in Dayton, Ohio, said Monday they’re still unsure why a gunman opened fire in a popular entertainment area early Sunday morning, killing nine people and injuring more than a dozen others in less than a minute.

Investigators had recovered at least 41 shell casings from the scene of the massacre as of Monday morning, Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl told reporters. Aside from the nine people killed, at least 14 others sustained gunshot wounds in the attack, although that number could climb as hospitals report the extent of injuries, Biehl said.

The assailant has been identified as 24-year-old Connor Betts, whom authorities shot and killed after he opened fire. He was armed with a legally obtained weapon and was wearing a mask and bulletproof vest at the time.

Biehl also said officials were “not close enough” to establishing a motive for the massacre.

“We are not seeing any indication of race being a motive, but we are not through all the evidence, and until we’re through all the evidence, we can’t rule that out,” he said.

The gun used in the shooting was modified to function like a rifle, Biehl noted, saying it troubled him that a civilian had been able to access that type of high-capacity firearm.

“It is fundamentally problematic,” Biehl said. “To have that level of weaponry in a civilian environment, unregulated, is problematic.”

The police chief noted that if the suspect’s bullet magazines were completely full, he would have had a maximum of 250 rounds on him at the time of the shooting.

The Associated Press reported Monday that Betts was suspended in high school after writing a “hit list” of people he wanted to kill and another of women he wanted to sexually assault. The outlet spoke to several former classmates, who said the event sparked a police investigation at the time, although it’s unclear what became of it.

President Donald Trump addressed the shooting in Dayton and another at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, that left at least 22 people dead during an address from the White House on Monday. While he called the shooters “evil” and “barbaric,” he failed to blame the event on Americans’ access to guns or on his own racist and divisive rhetoric.

“The perils of the internet and social media cannot be ignored, and will not be ignored,” the president said, also linking such attacks to mental illness and video games. He noted the spread of white supremacy in his response, referencing a racist, anti-Semitic screed posted on 8chan shortly before the El Paso shooting that was allegedly written by the suspect in that attack.

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