Sunday 18 August 2019

Ohio killer compiled 'hit list' and 'rape list' of classmates when he was in high school

Gunned down: Connor Betts was killed by police officers. Photo: Dayton Police Department/Handout via REUTERS
Gunned down: Connor Betts was killed by police officers. Photo: Dayton Police Department/Handout via REUTERS

Michael Biesecker

A gunman who killed nine people last weekend in Dayton, Ohio, was suspended from high school for writing a "hit list" of classmates and a "rape list" of girls he wanted to sexually assault.

High school classmates of Connor Betts questioned how he could have been allowed to buy the military-style weapon used in the weekend attack.

The accounts emerged after police said there was nothing in the background of 24-year-old Betts that would have prevented him from buying an AR-15-style assault rifle with an extended ammunition magazine he used to open fire outside a crowded bar in Dayton early on Sunday.

Police on patrol in the entertainment district shot him dead less than a minute later.

Former classmates said Betts was suspended aged 17 at suburban Bellbrook High School after a hit list was found scrawled in a school toilet.

That followed an earlier suspension after he came to school with a list of female students he wanted to sexually assault, according to two of the classmates.

"There was a kill list and a rape list, and my name was on the rape list," said a female classmate. The former cheerleader said she did not really know Betts and was surprised when a police officer called her to tell her that her name was on a list of potential targets.

"The officer said he wouldn't be at school for a while," she said. "But after some time passed he was back, walking the halls. They didn't give us any warning that he was returning to school."

A male classmate, who was on the running team with Betts, said Betts routinely threatened violence to other students.

"Most people avoided him," the man said. "He would say shocking things just to get a reaction. He enjoyed making people feel scared."

Officials at Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools refused to comment on the claims, confirming only that Betts attended schools in the district.

The discovery of the hit list early in 2012 sparked a police investigation and, according to a 'Dayton Daily News' story at the time, roughly a third of 900 Bellbrook students skipped school one day out of fear of a planned attack.

Another former Bellbrook student said he was on a school bus when a uniformed police officer came on board, asked for Betts by name and escorted him off. Although Betts was not named publicly by authorities as the author of the list, the former classmates said it was common knowledge within the school he was the one suspended over the incident.

Drew Gainey was among those who went on social media yesterday to say red flags were raised about Betts's behaviour years ago.

"There was an incident in high school with this shooter that should have prevented him from ever getting his hands on a weapon. This was a tragedy that was 100pc avoidable," he tweeted.

Hannah Shows was another former Bellbrook student who took to social media.

"Connor seriously threatened to hurt women who rejected him, myself included," she wrote on Facebook. "Connor Betts has been openly talking about doing this for a decade and no one could do anything about it."

Former Bellbrook principal Chris Baker said he "would not dispute that information" when the 'Daily News' asked him about the hit list suspension.

Betts had no apparent criminal record as an adult. It is not clear what, if any, criminal charges he faced when he was under 18.

Irish Independent

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