Ohio officials team up for bipartisan gun reform push
CINCINNATI (AP) — Ohio’s Republican governor and Dayton’s Democratic mayor pledged Thursday they will work together in a bipartisan push for gun reforms as the city focuses on recovering from the nation’s latest mass shooting.
Mike DeWine and Nan Whaley announced their legislative plan while visiting the downtown entertainment district where a gunman killed nine people and injured dozens more early Sunday. They also publicly discussed a mental health initiative.
Whaley says she’s pleased with how the Dayton community is coming together in a nonpartisan way in wake of the tragedy. She’s urging people to donate to the victim recovery fund, lobby their legislators for gun control measures and spend money in the Oregon district.
“My focus is getting something done around gun control so this terrible tragic incident in Dayton may not have to happen in other places,” Whaley said.
DeWine announced a package of proposals on background checks earlier this week. He said both Republicans and Democrats should be able to support the changes.
“I think we’re going to set a good example for other states,” DeWine said. “We’re going to do some things that actually matter and that will save lives.”
No new information was released Thursday on the investigations into 24-year-old Connor Betts, who was killed by police less than 30 seconds into his rampage that also left 37 people injured.
The FBI and police are probing Betts’ background and relationships to try to understand why he attacked the popular nightlife area, armed with an assault-style gun and dressed in body armor. They have said Betts was interested in “violent ideology” and fixated on mass shootings.
Jeremy Ganger, a bouncer at Ned Peppers in the Oregon District, recounted how he was determined to die before he allowed the gunman to get into the bar.
“Our patrons are more important than one active shooter, so I was going to try to stand my ground the best I could,” Ganger told ABC News .
Authorities have said hundreds more people may have died had Betts gotten into the bar during the shooting.
Video shows Ganger holding the front door open and waving in or pulling people inside Ned Peppers as Betts got closer. He told them to “get inside, get down!”
He says he was “grabbing them as fast as I could. As best I could.”
He could see the gunman staring at him as he advanced just before police opened fire.
“He knew he wasn’t coming out,” Ganger said. “You could tell he knew what he was doing. I don’t know why, but he was there to hurt us.”
Ganger got a piece of shrapnel in his leg.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump visited Wednesday with staff and patients at Miami Valley Hospital, where three people remained hospitalized in stable condition. A fourth wounded person remained in fair condition Thursday in Kettering Medical Center.
There were protests against Trump , a Republican, in Dayton and in El Paso, Texas, where a gunman killed 22 people hours before the Ohio shooting over the weekend.
In Dayton, people chanted “Do something!” — a phrase that’s become a rallying cry for political action on mass shootings.
Meanwhile, Ganger, the bouncer, said he has had trouble sleeping, but is heartened by all the well-wishes and seeing his coworkers. He will be back on the job when he can be.
“If I don’t go back to work, he (the gunman) wins,” he said. “He took something away from all of us if we don’t go back. He’s not gonna beat me.”
Seewer reported from Toledo, Ohio. Associated Press writers Lisa Cornwell in Cincinnati and Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus contributed.