The 24-year-old white man who murdered nine people at a bar in Dayton, Ohio, on Sunday had a history of making misogynist threats targeting former female classmates, according to several news reports.
Former students who attended Bellbrook High School with Connor Betts, who was killed by police after committing the rampage (of which his own 22-year-old sister was a victim) said that he was known to school officials and police for bringing a “rape list” of women into school, as well as for speaking directly to at least one woman about violently killing her. Still, he was able to purchase the weapons he used to commit the shooting legally in the state of Ohio.
One former classmate from as far back as middle school told the Dayton Daily News that she had reported violent threats Betts made to her to police. Betts “once said he fantasized about tying her up and slitting her throat,” she said. She recounted that she had spoken to Betts directly about “getting help,” and that she and her parents told school police about the issue, but that “she felt she wasn’t taken seriously, despite the would-be shooter including her on a hit list.”
That “hit list” was confirmed by a former principal of Bellbrook High School, who said that Betts had been suspended for “causing a lockdown by writing a hit list on a bathroom wall” when he was a sophomore. Betts graduated from Bellbrook in 2013.
One student told CNN that the list was separated into a “kill list” for boys and a “rape list” for girls, some of whom had reportedly rebuffed Betts romantically. Betts reportedly sent messages about the list to one student, who told her mother, who informed the school. Another woman who was on the list told the network that “some of the names [on the list] were female students who, like her, turned him down for dates.”
She also said Betts “loved to look at you and pretend to shoot with guns, guns with his hands.” A male student who was not on the list said that “Betts would talk about violence and use harsh language about women, like calling them ‘sluts,’” whenever they spent time together.
Despite Betts’s history, he was able to legally purchase the AR-15-like assault weapon he used to commit the shooting, which injured an additional 27 people, and magazines containing 100 rounds. A background check would only have yielded a few traffic violations, according to the Washington Post.
The Ohio General Assembly is reportedlyconsidering several firearms bills, evenly split between restricting and expanding access to guns. Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican endorsed by the NRA, has said he supports a “Red Flag Law” for the state, which would allow court orders to be obtained by police or close family members to remove firearms from dangerous individuals.
As Rebecca Traister wrote in the Cut in 2016, data shows a correlation between violence against women and the perpetrators of mass shootings. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, of the mass shootings in the United States between 2009 and 2015, 57 percent included victims who were a family member, spouse, or former spouse of the shooter. 16 percent of attackers had been previously charged with domestic violence.
Betts and his younger sister Megan reportedly arrived in the city’s Oregon nightlife district together on Saturday night, and then separated. The specifics of Betts’s motive and whether he targeted his sister intentionally are unknown. But the fact that Betts was allowed to purchase and keep guns has outraged those in Dayton who have known of his disturbing history for years. The woman who had reported Betts to the police for telling her he wanted to tie her up and slit her throat expressed her anger to the Dayton Daily News. “This isn’t a mystery to me,” she said. “I’m furious.”
*story by The Cut