I remember going to the Oregon District with my family back in February. I was with my mom and aunts because they were getting matching tattoos. I remember eating spicy and lemon pepper wings at Blind Bob's with my uncle and sister. We were getting hungry while waiting for my mom and aunts to have their tattoos finished. It was February, so it was a bit chilly, partly cloudy, but that didn't stop the smiles and laughter from the people walking around.
My family knows people who work and hang out in that area: uur family friend Peanut, we gig with his band sometimes, and my dad's friend Pistol used to have a food truck in the District. From my perspective, the Oregon District seems like a great place for adults and college students to hang out with their friends, get drinks and tattoos.
Close to 10 a.m. on Sunday, August 4, I woke up to my sister Layla calling my name. It was the way she was calling out to me that woke me up because anytime her voice was shaky or she seemed uneasy, I knew something was wrong. I asked her what was wrong. And honestly, I wish I hadn't.
In less than 60 seconds, Connor Betts killed nine people and injured dozens of people near Ned Pepper's bar in the Oregon District. Betts was killed about 30 seconds after he opened fire.
Knowing that this happened so close to home put a different type of fear in me.
Lois Oglesby, Nicholas Cumer, Logan Turner. Thomas McNichols, Derrick Fudge. Monica Brickhouse, Saeed Saleh, Beatrice Warren-Curtis, and Connor Betts own sibling, Megan Betts. For the victims who survived their families and the business owners in the area I am so sorry that we live in a world where we have to be so cautious everywhere we go.
I am so sorry that you have to live with this pain for the rest of your life. It may not be easy to move forward, but you all have stories to tell. Tell your story until you are heard.
There is very little change happening right now when it comes to gun control and ways to monitor who is able to purchase a weapon. Yet the ban on e-cigarettes is moving very fast. As soon as the first teenager was pronounced dead from vaping, the FDA and the government were all over it. But as soon as a bunch of people were gunned down in less than 30 seconds, all they gave were their condolences and a bunch of ideas as to what we need to do. But we're yet to see these ideas be put into place.
It worries me every day going to my first period class, knowing that a young man could get triggered by anything, and the next thing you know, I'm dead, my friends are dead and my parents are burying me before I have to bury them.
We live in a country where people have the right to bear arms, and time after time. history shows that right being abused in the United States of America. You can buy a gun before you can buy a beer. How does that make you feel?
I'm a teenager. I go to high school where I should be living my best life. I should be focused on my education, my extracurricular activities, but when I go to school, I'm constantly wondering in the back of my mind, is something going to happen? Am I going to have to be ready to run out of here at any moment? There's a literally a kid in my history class who openly said that his favorite activity or pastime was guns. He likes to shoot guns and stuff for fine. Do you know how scary it is to sit in the class with that kid?
At this point, it doesn't even matter the color of your skin, it doesn't matter your gender, it doesn't matter your sexuality. You could be laughing. Hanging out with your friends, but the next thing you know, you, one of them or all of you are just gone.
We really live in a country where you can get a gun before you can even drink. And I don't like that.
Dorian Mays is a student at Centerville High School. Special Thanks to Tricia Rapoch, teacher for the Communication Arts Program at Centerville High School. Learn more at the school's website: http://www.centerville.k12.oh.us/CHS. Dayton Youth Radio is supported by the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation, the Ohio Arts Council and the Vectren Foundation.
This story was created at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.