Thousands of people gathered Sunday night in Dayton’s Oregon District to honor those killed by a gunman early Sunday morning in front of Ned Peppers bar.
Local and state leaders addressed the crowd, as did spiritual leaders of different faiths throughout the Miami Valley. There was a mix of emotions on display at the vigil: Sadness, and then anger, as many in the crowd shouted “Do something!” over Gov. Mike DeWine’s speech.
One of the most inspirational moments of the evening came as officials released 10 doves to the skies above Dayton, one to represent the survivors of the shooting – and then nine others in honor of the victims who did not survive.
Mayor Nan Whaley, a Democrat, said there will be time later for dealing with the policy issues. She implored the crowd to honor the victims of the second U.S. mass shooting in less than 24 hours, for which no motive has been explained.
Among those attending the vigil and inspired by the turnout was Erica Pate, a Dayton native now living in Piqua.
“This is a beautiful, beautiful showing, just showing how strong we are when we are all united upon one mind, working together with thought and process," Pate said. "If we can just stay in this cadence and just remain together, there’s nothing we can’t do. It’s sad that we have to rebuild like this, but I believe all things are working together for our good."
Renee Westermeyer of Springboro said there were bigger issues to discuss, but on this evening it was coming together that mattered most.
“We just felt that it was very important to be here, to not only support the community but the families of the victims that were lost, and those that are recovering,” Westermeyer said.
Westermeyer reflected the thoughts of others at the vigil when she said, "It’s going to be a tough time for the community to recover and heal and move forward."