Dayton gunman had cocaine, Xanax, alcohol in his system during attack

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a memorial for those killed in a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, U.S. August 7, 2019. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston/File Photo

By Dan Whitcomb

(Reuters) – The gunman who killed nine people outside a bar in Dayton, Ohio, had cocaine, Xanax and alcohol in his system at the time of the shooting rampage, the county coroner said on Thursday.

Dayton police announced the findings at a press conference and on Twitter and said that two victims of the massacre were struck by gunfire from law enforcement officers responding to the scene.

“While it weighs heavily on us that our response caused harm to these victims, we are comforted that none of our rounds caused the death of any of these innocent people,” Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl said on Twitter.

Dr. Kent Harshbarger, Montgomery County coroner, said at the news conference that an autopsy conducted on the body of 24-year-old Connor Betts found the drugs and medication in his system.

It was not clear how much of each drug was present at the time of the attack.

The Aug. 4 massacre, which ended when police shot and killed the gunman, was one of three mass shootings over three weeks that stunned Americans and stoked a long-running debate over gun rights.

Earlier this week a friend of Betts, 24-year-old Ethan Kollie, was charged in federal court with lying his drug use on a form he filled out to buy a gun and with possession of a firearm by an unlawful user of a controlled substance.

In announcing the charges, prosecutors said Kollie admitted that he had purchased body armor, an accessory for an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and a 100-round double drum magazine that Betts used during the shooting.

Kollie kept the items at his apartment in the Dayton suburb of Kettering to conceal them from Betts’ parents, according to court papers. Kollie is not accused with helping plan or carry out the attack.

Betts opened fire outside a bar in the Oregon District of Dayton at 1 a.m. on Aug. 4. The shooting ended rapidly when police moved in and shot Betts dead. Those killed included Betts’ 22-year-old sister, Megan.

The FBI said last week that Betts had a history of violent obsessions and had mused about committing mass murder before his rampage in Dayton’s historic downtown.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Driver kills nine, injures 16 plowing van onto Toronto sidewalk: police

Firemen cover a victim of an incident where a van struck multiple people at a major intersection in Toronto's northern suburbs, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, April 23, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

y Anna Mehler Paperny and Allison Martell

TORONTO (Reuters) – A driver plowed his white Ryder rental van into a crowd, killing nine people and injuring 16 along a roughly mile-long stretch of busy Toronto sidewalk during lunch hour on a sunny Monday afternoon, police said.

Officials declined to answer questions about what motivated the driver to steer his vehicle toward people just before 1:30 p.m. (1730 GMT). They said the driver was in custody and stopped short of calling it a deliberate act.

But at least one witness described the driver as appearing to deliberately target victims on his roughly mile-long (1.6 km-long) rampage, according to media reports.

“This is going to be a long investigation,” Toronto Deputy Chief Peter Yuen told a news conference after disclosing the death toll.

People react to an incident where a van struck multiple people at a major intersection in Toronto's northern suburbs, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, April 23, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

People react to an incident where a van struck multiple people at a major intersection in Toronto’s northern suburbs, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, April 23, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

A Reuters witness saw at least two tarp-covered bodies at the site of the incident. Five people remained in critical condition at Sunnybrook Health Services Centre on Monday afternoon, the hospital said.

Canada’s public safety minister, Ralph Goodale, declined to comment on what may have motivated the attack.

“The investigation is at a stage where no further information can be confirmed at this point,” Goodale told a news conference said. “The police are conducting obviously their thorough investigation to determine what happened and why it happened, the motivations involved.”

Ryder System Inc spokeswoman Claudia Panfil confirmed that one of the company’s rental vehicles had been involved and said the company was cooperating with authorities.

There have been a string of deadly vehicle attacks in the United States and Europe, including an Oct. 31 attack in New York that killed eight. Islamic State militant group encourages its supporters to use vehicles for attacks.

Toronto police investigates an incident where a van struck multiple people at a major intersection in Toronto's northern suburbs in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, April 23, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Donovan

Toronto police investigates an incident where a van struck multiple people at a major intersection in Toronto’s northern suburbs in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, April 23, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Donovan

‘IT’S UNPRECEDENTED’

The incident was one of the most violent in recent Canadian history.

A former Canadian university student last month pleaded guilty to killing six men praying in a Quebec City mosque in January 2017.

In September, a Somali refugee who was charged with attempted murder on allegations he ran down four pedestrians with a car and stabbed a police officer outside a sports stadium in Edmonton, Alberta.

“It’s unprecedented,” said John Flengas, acting superintendent in the city’s paramedic services. We’ve never seen anything like this in the city of Toronto.”

The incident occurred about 30 kms (18 miles) away from the site where Toronto is hosting a Group of Seven foreign ministers.

A man who gave his name as Ali told CNN he saw the van and that the driver appeared to have been targeting people.

“This person was intentionally doing this, he was killing everybody,” the man said. “He kept going, he kept going. People were getting hit, one after another.”

He said a number of the victims were older people and at one point he saw a stroller fly into the air.

At least one person was struck outside on the sidewalk outside an Anglican church, north of where the van came to rest in front of a currency exchange in a condominium tower.

Yonge Street is large, divided boulevard at the point where the incident occurred, its center meridian dotted with planter boxes and sculptures.

Some of the victims were struck in a public square popular with office workers on lunch breaks. Aerial photos of the scene posted on social media showed a food truck parked just a few feet away from where emergency workers busily transferred people onto stretchers.

There was no noticeable change in security around the Intercontinental Hotel where the ministers of Canada, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan were meeting on Monday.

(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny and Allison Martell in Toronto; Additional reporting by Jim Finkle, Nichola Saminather, Carlo Allegri and Julie Gordon; Writing by Andrea Hopkins and Scott Malone; Editing by Grant McCool)