10 stories that touched our hearts and showed Dayton’s strength in the year since tragic shooting

If was the perfect summer night that Dayton needed after chaos and sorrow blew into town with the 15 tornadoes that assaulted us on Memorial Day 2019.

All that changed in little more than 30 seconds.

Dayton has not been the same since that day one year ago when one of our own — a 24-year-old from Bellbrook — used a weapon meant for war to kill nine people, injure at least 40 and scar the community.

Dayton continues to process and heal from the horrors of Aug. 4, 2019.

Today, we remember the souls we lost and those they left behind.

Monica Brickhouse, 39, of Springfield. The Anthem employee was survived by a list of family members that includes her husband Anthony Brickhouse and children Anthony G. Brickhouse, Kevon Brickhouse and Sanaa Brickhouse.

Beatrice Warren-Curtis, 36, had traveled from Virginia to Dayton to visit Brickhouse, her friend and Anthem Insurance co-worker.

Nicholas Cumer, 25, was finishing up his internship at Maple Tree Cancer Alliance in Dayton.

Derrick Fudge, 57, of Springfield. The Salvation Army bell ringer died in his son’s arms after a night celebrating on Fifth Street. Dion Green has been a beacon of light during some of Dayton’s darkest moments.

Logan Turner, 30 of Springboro. The Thaler Machine Co. machinist had planned to celebrate his birthday with family members later on the Sunday he was killed. His father, Mike Turner, launched #LoganHugs in his honor.

Thomas J. McNichols, 25 of Dayton. Known to all as TeeJay, the factory worker was a father of four and a "gentle giant."

Lois Oglesby, 27, of Vandalia. The travel-lover known as "Lola" and "Nae" by some is survived by a list of relatives that include her partner Darryl Lee, and daughters, Hannah Ann Marie Oglesby and Reign Lola Dior Lee, who was just 8 months old when her mother was killed.

Saeed Saleh, 38, came to America three years before his death with the help of the Catholic Social Services Resettlement Program. The father had fled Eritrea, the small East African nation that Amnesty International says is one of the most repressive countries in the world.

— Megan Betts, 22, a Bellbrook graduate and Wright State student about to earn a degree. She was the younger sister of the gunman.

Today, we also reflect on a community’s strength in its darkest hour and the people who have truly made a difference.

Here are the stories of some of the people who have touched our hearts in the year following the tragic shooting.

1. ‘Dayton’s Protector’ a true hometown hero

When 24-year-old Connor Betts began his rampage in the Oregon District, just a few yards across the street from Ned Peppers, panic ensued and people began screaming and running in all directions. Jeremy Ganger, a bouncer for Ned Peppers working the door that night, immediately jumped into action. He began ushering and sometimes shoving people through the bar’s front door to get them out of the line of fire. And when frightened people inside tried to run back out, he slammed them down to keep them safe.

When he saw the gunman approaching the bar, Ganger stationed himself in the doorway to protect the hundreds of people inside.

Police shot the gunman, and Ganger wrestled the gun away.

Ganger has been forever changed by the tragedy, but he’s been inspired to help others and is currently working to become a peer counselor.

“I’ve always wanted to be able to help people,” Ganger told Dayton.com, who are honoring him as this week’s Daytonian of the Week. “Now I’m redirecting my entire life. This experience has opened my eyes that we need to treat people better.”

2. Grieving dad teaches us the power of a hug

Mike Turner’s heart was shattered on Aug. 4 when he lost his only child during the Dayton mass shooting.

Through his pain, he still wants to spread love.

He said he’s felt Logan’s hugs and heard his words during his darkest moments since the shooting.

Since the shooting, Mike has spent chunks of his life giving out the hugs he no longer can give to his Logan. The 6-foot-7, 270-pound retired car salesman has wrapped his long arms around hundreds and hundreds of backs. Hearts to his heart.


“Let’s just love each other,” he said. “I’m trying to be a better man by showing people that you can still be with God. You can still show a smile.”

3. Victim’s son inspires with his faith and spirit of forgiveness

The year 2019 was crushing for Dion Green.

He feared he, his 10-year-old daughter and girlfriend were going to die in their Northridge home the night the worst of the tornadoes sucked away their home’s roof and sent the family’s belongings flying blocks away.

Little did Dion know at the time the night of the tornadoes was only the beginning.

Just over two months later, on Aug. 4, Dion sobbed uncontrollably on Fifth Street as his father, Derrick Fudge, took his final breath. He cradled the man who helped give him life and became a close friend when he became a man.

Yet Dion holds no animosity. He has dedicated his life to making a difference in honor of his father. He has released a book and has launched a non-profit to help those impacted by violence.

“I have my days that are harder than others. But I continue to fight for him by honoring his legacy and leaving one for myself by being involved in the community, sharing my story of him offering encouragement to others. And by explaining to them even in times when it is the darkest, you can still turn that into a light to guide people through life-changing experience,” Green said.

4. Bar staff did exactly what they were trained to do and saved lives

The general manager of two Dayton bars thrown into the national spotlight following the Aug. 4 mass shooting told us days after the tragedy that his staff was prepared for the worst, and took action.

Austin Smith, the general manager of Ned Peppers and the Hole in the Wall, said his team acted heroically when the unimaginable happened.

“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 applied pressure to gunshot wounds to help control the bleeding. They helped to get people into and out of the bar as safely as possible, he added.

His team had received emergency training from Dayton police and did exactly what they were supposed to do.

“Forty people did exactly what we talked about,” he said.

Credit: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Amelia Robinson

5. Oregon District shows its strength and resilience

The Oregon District’s unofficial mayor saw things he never thought he would the hours following a shooting in the heart of the entertainment district.

Despite witnessing such tragedy, the manager of Blind Bob’s also saw hope, strength and resilience.

“I don’t want people to let the shooting define what the Oregon District is, and I don’t think they will,” said Rowe, a local history buff. “We’ve been through a lot of unavoidable disasters going back to the Dayton flood in 1913, and other avoidable disasters, which I think this one could have been. We are known for culture and history going back to the 19th century, and we are going to keep building upon that no matter what people do.”

In the months since, these employees have had to work through their pain and grief and then face more obstacles after the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Yet, they persevere.

“To me (Dayton Strong) means not only are we strong and resilient, but we’re united, and we move together. We act together,” said Shane Juhl, founder of Toxic Brew Company in the Oregon District.

6. A legend surprises Dayton, calls for change

Exactly one week after the tragedy, a celebrity with roots in this region surprised some of his fans when they needed him the most.

“You have no choice; you have to keep going,” Springfield native and entertainer John Legend said during a tour of the Oregon District.

Legend purchased clothing for his children with TV host Chrissy Teigen at Heart and beck + call and looked at hats at Brim before having dinner at Corner Kitchen and giving a private show at Blind Bob’s.

He also advocated for reform.

“Continue to support each other and be as loving and caring as we can with each other, and then I think we have to vote as if our lives depended on it because they really do. We need to vote for politicians that will support gun safety measures.”

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

7. Dayton shines through the pain

The stars came out to shine for Dayton just weeks after the mass shooting to help the community heal and “reclaim” the Oregon District.

Dave Chappelle, who calls Yellow Springs home, rounded up some of his famous friends and some 20,000 people in Dayton for an unforgettable night in the streets of the Oregon District on Aug. 25.

Music icon Stevie Wonder was the headliner of the event. Also performing was Grammy winner Chance the Rapper, Talib Kweli, Teyana Taylor, and Thundercat. Jon Stewart also made an appearance.

“The best way we can honor our fallen is by getting up better than we were before,” Chappelle told the crowd. “We won’t let those people die in vain.”

Credit: Imagine screen grab from Instagram video posted by @teamkanyedaily

Credit: Imagine screen grab from Instagram video posted by @teamkanyedaily

8) Girl sings her heart out for Dayton

Eight-year-old Ryleigh Manuel and her mother, Kelly Watts, lost nearly everything when the worst of the 15 Memorial Day tornadoes hit their Trotwood home.

Ryleigh had to be strong for her mom and again when she learned that Thomas McNichols, a much-loved custodian at her former school, was among those killed during the mass shooting Aug. 4 in the Oregon District.

The spunky kid represented hours before Gem City Shine hosted by Yellow Springs-based comedian Dave Chappelle began. The beads in Ryleigh’s braided hair swayed as she rocked with rapper Kanye West at his Aug. 26 Sunday service at Riverscape MetroPark in support of those impacted by the mass shooting.

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

9. Artists promote strength, healing

Artists created mosaics and murals, while musicians penned songs to promote strength and healing.

A mural designed by and painted by artists Atalie Gagnet and Tiffany Clark above the Blind Bob’s patio, 430 E. Fifth St., promotes love in the face of hate. “Bring Some Lovin’ Here Today” was inspired by John Legend’s cover of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?” at Blind Bob’s in a special private performance.

Jes McMillan, founder of The Mosaic Institute of Greater Dayton, was inspired by the release of doves at a vigil following the Aug. 4, 2019, mass shooting.

She and her team designed the mural, “a memorial of loss but also of the community coming together,” so the public could take part in its creation. “9 Doves” is a 5 feet tall, 6 feet wide mural, weighing 200 pounds. More than 300 people placed one and two-inch porcelain pieces in the sky surrounding the doves. Many wrote messages, prayers and hopes on the individual tiles. It is now permanently on display at city hall.

These are just a couple examples of ways artists channeled the community’s emotions after the tragedy into public art.

10. Dayton shows it is Dayton Strong

In the days, weeks, months and year following the tragedy, the theme “Dayton Strong” emerged on everything from hashtags, to signs to T-shirts to tattoos.

These two words, Dayton Strong, became a symbol for Dayton community pride as it rallied through the storm. It encompassed simple acts of kindness by individuals to working together to raise more than $4 million for survivors and the victims’ families.

2020 continued to test Dayton’s strength and resilience, with a new set of challenges with the pandemic.

But Dayton will remain Dayton Strong through it all.

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