The jumble of shoes abandoned by people fleeing for their lives early Sunday morning has been removed from the parking lot of Ned Pepper’s bar. Near the front door, flowers and candles are piling up. Heart-shaped wreaths honoring the victims stand a few feet away.
The Dayton community is in mourning after 9 people were killed and over 30 injured in Sunday’s mass shooting.
Fifth street is typically empty on Mondays because most businesses are closed. But today, reporters from all over the country pace on the sidewalks. TV news trucks hum on both sides of the street.
Dayton Resident Lori Cahill stands in front of the makeshift memorial with tears in her eyes. She says she’s still in shock.
“To think something like this could happen on a day like that, it makes you afraid to walk out your own door.”
Annette Gibson Strong took it upon herself to pick up all the flowers and candles and signs from in front of the bar’s door and arrange them under the window. That way, the memorial could remain without blocking the entrance.
Strong says she knew two of the victims. T.J. McNichols was from her neighborhood, and one of the women killed was a friend of the family and a regular in the Oregon District.
“They were good people, just normal, regular people, and we hang out at the Oregon cause it’s the cool place to be: peaceful, no problems, nobody expected anything like this not in the Oregon,” says Strong. “And all these babies and mothers and kids are hurting because some dumb person came down here and did this.”
This mass shooting has brought back bad memories for Strong, who knelt and prayed in front of the memorial. She says she lost a son to gun violence; he was shot and killed 27 years ago.
Amelia O’Dowd owns a business down the street from the crime scene. She watched the initial investigation unfold.
“The whole sidewalk is covered in those little yellow number placards that they use for crime scenes for bullet casings.”
Investigators recovered at least 41 spent shell casings at the crime scene. Police say they have yet to determine the gunman’s motive.
A prayer vigil is planned for Monday night in Bellbrook, the suburb where the 24-year-old gunman lived. Three others have already been held in the Miami Valley.