Robinson: A few split seconds changed everything for Dayton, but next to nothing has been ‘done’

Dayton's Oregon District, the site of Ohio's deadliest mass shooting, pictured nearly one year later. TOM GILLIAM/CONTRIBUTED
Dayton's Oregon District, the site of Ohio's deadliest mass shooting, pictured nearly one year later. TOM GILLIAM/CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

This column by Amelia Robinson appeared on the Dayton Daily News' Ideas and Voices page Sunday, Aug. 2.

There were split seconds this summer when I wondered if it was all happening again.

Once I even ran into our alley to give our neighbor a tongue lashing.

Didn’t he remember what happened here and what that sounded like for a few split seconds?

Only split seconds because I have long known the difference between the sound a semi-automatic weapon makes and the bangs and pops that often come with fireworks breaking the calm.

It was the sound of warfare, not summer fun, that drove my husband and I into our pink house constructed in 1884 just two blocks away from the worst mass shooting in recent Ohio history nearly a year ago.

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I told him it sounded like a semi-automatic just before we pulled into the alley leading to our garage after a glorious summer night with friends.

Sadly I was right.

Before we made it to our backdoor, I heard what I knew from years as a night police reporter to be gunshots.

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It was two blocks away on Fifth Street in our beloved Oregon District, but sounded much closer.

Little more than 30 split seconds after the shooting began, we rushed indoors and clung to the notion of security in our brick stairway.

The stairway seemed the safest place in a house that had survived fire and the Great Flood of 1913.

We texted neighbors and friends and checked in with our newsroom seeking details that were not yet there, details we would try to get.

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Soon we walked to Fifth Street to do the thing that journalists do, find out what happened.

Amelia Robinson
Amelia Robinson

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

The police tape was just going up. Abandoned shoes and cell phones from those who fled still littered sidewalks and parking lots.

The still-warm bodies — ten of them, including the shooter — were covered with sheets.

We’d learn later that several friends, neighbors and acquaintances saw Derrick Fudge, Lois Oglesby, Saeed Saleh, Logan Turner, Nicholas Cumer, Thomas McNichols, Beatrice Warren-Curtis, Monica Brickhouse and Megan Betts die that night.

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Some helped. Many still wish they could have done more.

Others barely escaped being in the wrong place at the wrong time by what amounted to split-second decisions.

On any other night, we would have taken a cruise down Fifth Street to check things out before heading home those two blocks away.

Perhaps we would have been driving by just after 1 a.m. when the shooter struck.

The children of two Mike Turners were there when the killing happened. One was Logan Turner’s dad, a retired car salesman who made it his mission to spread hugs following his only child’s death and before the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner’s daughter and a family friend had just walked into the Tumbleweed Connection when the shooting began. She survived.

I vividly remember seeing the Republican congressman hugging Dayton’s Democratic mayor just before the crowd of hundreds that assembled that evening for a candlelight vigil began chatting ‘do something,’ an appeal that steps be taken to prevent another “Oregon District.”

Nearly 365 mornings and millions of split seconds have passed since the early morning when nine lives were stolen and the illusion of safety and security vanished.

Hmm.

You can almost count on one hand what has actually happened when it comes to gun violence.

I won’t soon forget the day that terror came to my city, to my neighborhood, to my friends and acquaintances.

I won’t soon forget the spots where I saw bodies scattered about Fifth Street.

I won’t soon forget the tears, fear, hugs and love that came afterward.

Others will forget our pain if they ever took notice of it at all.

I am a strong person. This is a strong community.

Resiliency is an amazing thing.

Like our house, we will survive, but there has to be a bigger point than that.

Doesn’t there?

Amelia Robinson is Dayton Daily News’ Community Impact Editor. Her column has appeared in the newspaper since 2006.