DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — The six officers who shot and killed the Oregon District Mass Shooting suspect are talking for the first time about their experiences on scene three years ago. Most importantly, life after the shooting.
Retired Dayton Police Sgt. Chad Knight and Officers Vincent Carter, David Denlinger, Brian Rolfes, Ryan Nabel and Jeremy Campbell were in the district when the shooting occurred.
“I just remember it being very quiet because probably 20 minutes before the incident, I went to Sgt. Knight’s car and we were talking about what time it was and how we’re ready to go home,” said Rolfes.
Moments later, the officers said they remember hearing gunshots and everything falling into slow motion.
“As I’m finishing something up on my computer, we hear what initially sounded like gunshots. I remember saying out loud ‘are those gunshots going off?’ Officer Rolfe takes off running as fast as he can towards it and the rest of us follow.”
Campbell said he immediately started looking for a threat. Between smoke from gunfire and people running, he says he saw a guy wearing a rifle with a drum bag, something he had never seen before.
“I thought about my kids, like what if something were to happen to me,” said Campbell. “I saw a guy wearing khaki shorts, a black hoodie, black mask, and he had a rifle with a drum bag, which I’d never seen before. It was a chaotic situation but I just focused on him and that’s when I decided to shoot, it was all very quick.”
Hours before the shooting, Knight told Campbell to keep an eye out for suspicious behaviors. Knight called the Oregon District a soft target because it draws in large crowds for several hours in one area. From the time the suspect fired his first shot to being neutralized by police was 32 seconds, something retired sergeant Knight still wonders what could’ve been done differently.
“I still think about it, you know, it’s a major event in your life,” said retired Knight. “I think what could I have done better, you know I was in charge and those people came into the district and put their lives in my hands.”
All six officers said the Oregon District Mass Shooting didn’t deter them from continuing their careers in law enforcement for one moment. They all believe they were the right people in a horrible situation.
“I’m glad I was down there and I’m glad I was with these guys,” said Rolfes. “I know it’s a terrible situation, but we did what we had to do and we did it the correct way.”
A total of nine people were killed, 10 including the shooter. Twenty-seven more people were injured.