The general manager of two Dayton bars thrown into the national spotlight following Sunday morning’s mass shooting in the Oregon District is praising the response by Dayton police and his staff — particularly a doorman who took the weapon away from a man police say had just killed nine people.
Austin Smith, the general manager of Ned Peppers and the Hole in the Wall, says bouncer Jeremy Ganger rushed to take a semi-automatic pistol that police say was modified to act like a rifle away from Connor Betts after Betts was shot by police.
“(One of the police officers who shot Betts) was praising the door guy,” Smith said, adding that Ganger acted on instinct and did not know the extent of Betts’ injuries when he took the gun away.
Betts died from his gunshot wounds near the entrance of Ned Peppers.
>> VIDEO: Inside Ned Peppers after Dayton shooting
THE SMOKE HADN’T CLEARED
Smith said police officers’ swift actions saved lives and kept Betts from entering Ned’s, which at the time held nearly 200 patrons.
He praised the police officers on duty in the Oregon District, put in place by Dayton police Major Wendy Stiver.
“The cops did everything,” Smith said. “They were selfless.”
Smith said his staff and staff members from a list of surrounding bars that included Newcom’s Tavern and Blind Bob’s also acted heroically after Betts sprayed the district with bullets.
“The smoke hasn’t cleared, and they are rushing outside to help people,” he said. “It would be easy to run and hide.”
Bartenders and bouncers used T-shirts, bar rags and bags as makeshift tourniquets.
They were holding pressure on gunshot wounds, said Smith, who arrived in the Oregon District on Sunday around 4 a.m. to review surveillance footage and assist police officers.
“They ran toward adversity,” he said of the service industry professionals. “They are going to town doing the best they could. The girls were running out of bags and T-shirts.”
The staff at Ned’s and Hole in the Wall have received emergency training from the Dayton police that helped prepare them for what they experienced on Aug. 4.
“This is the fear that I have had for five, six, seven years,” Smith said.
There were about 40 people working at Ned’s and The Hole in the Wall that night.
“Forty people did exactly what we talked about,” he said.
They helped to get people into and out of the bar as safely as possible, he added.
The Oregon District is a close-knit community and has expressed that time and time again through fundraisers for those in need, from tornado relief efforts in recent months, to support for employees facing tough times including health issues such as cancer.
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“The amount of selfless acts that go on down there isn’t going to stop,” he said. “Events like this bring us closer together.”
A stream of Ned’s former employees have stopped by the bar this week to show their support.
“I can’t tell you how many staff shirts I have seen. They feel obligated to represent and be part of it,” Smith said.
“I don’t think the Oregon District/Dayton can be held down. There is no mountain we can’t climb and tear down.”