Seventeen months ago, Moira Cofer Betts stood outside the Dublin Pub in Dayton with her son and daughter. The three squeezed together, arm in arm, and smiled for a selfie.
Betts then posted the photo to Facebook, something she did often. “I’m a very lucky mama,” she wrote in a separate post a month later.
On Sunday, both of Betts’ children were killed about a block from where they’d posed for that photo.
Her son, Connor, 24, was shot to death by police after killing nine people and injuring 27. Her daughter, Megan, 22, was among the victims shot and killed by her brother.
Betts and her husband, Stephen, got the news within hours of the shooting. Police and FBI agents were at their home Sunday morning in the Dayton suburb of Bellbrook, searching for evidence that could help explain what happened.
“We don’t know the why, we don’t know the whats,” said Bellbrook Police Chief Doug Doherty. “But we do know that there are a mom and dad down there that are really hurting.”
Connor and Megan drove together to Dayton’s Oregon District, an entertainment area with bars and restaurants, sometime Saturday night. Once there, they went their separate ways, police said. The shooting started around 1 a.m. Megan was one of the first to die.
Classmates say Betts had a ‘rape list,’ ‘kill list’
Connor did not have a serious criminal record, but some people who knew him said he’d been troubled in the past.
One classmate told The Enquirer Connor Betts had been bullied in high school and responded by making a hit list. “He had a plan to shoot up the high school,” said Laura Wakeley, who attended Bellbrook High School with him.
The Associated Press reported that classmates said he was suspended for compiling a “hit list” of those he wanted to kill and a “rape list” of girls he wanted to sexually assault.
Both former classmates told The Associated Press that Betts was suspended during their junior year at suburban Bellbrook High School after a hit list was found scrawled in a school bathroom.
That followed an earlier suspension after Betts came to school with a list of female students he wanted to sexually assault, according to the two classmates, a man and a woman who are both now 24 and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity out of concern they might face harassment.
The discovery of the hit list early in 2012 sparked a police investigation, and roughly one-third of Bellbrook students skipped school out of fear, according to an article in the Dayton Daily News.
Drew Gainey was among those who went on social media Sunday to say red flags were raised about Betts’ 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 100% avoidable,” he wrote on in a Twitter post on Sunday.
Gainey did not respond to messages from AP seeking further comment, but the name on his account matches that of a former Bellbrook student who was on the track team with Betts.
Not everyone who went to school with Betts had bad things to say. Brad Howard told reporters in Bellbrook on Sunday that he was friends with Betts from preschool through their high school graduation.
“Connor Betts that I knew was a nice kid. The Connor Betts that I talked to, I always got along with well,” Howard said.
Chris Baker, a former Bellbrook High School principal, was asked about the hit list appearing on a bathroom wall at the school. “I would not dispute that information,” Baker told the Dayton Daily News, declining to comment further.
Connor was a student at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, though he was not enrolled at the school for the summer.
According to his LinkedIn page, Connor’s work history included stints at Chipotle Mexican Grill and a gas station in Centerville, Ohio.
Shooter’s sister is one of the victims
Megan Betts was a student at Wright State University near Dayton, majoring in earth and environmental sciences.
A high school friend, Dana Raber, described her as “a sweetheart.” Raber said she last saw Megan on Halloween a couple years ago, when her friend was dressed up as a scarecrow to frighten kids as they went around collecting candy.
“It made me smile because she did it in good fun,” said Raber, 20. “She’s a lot of fun.”
The Betts’ parents were described in glowing terms by neighbors. Doherty said the family lived in Bellbrook for a number of years.
The street where they lived was closed Sunday while police were at the Betts’ home. Reporters congregated outside the barricades, hoping for information about what happened and why.
Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl said the parents were interviewed about the shooting. “This is a nightmare for them,” he said.
Several photos from Moira Cofer Betts’ Facebook page show Connor and Megan together, smiling. As many parents do, she posted about how much she adored her kids.
“My loves,” she wrote on April 19, 2017, over a picture of Connor and Megan. “So proud to be their mom!”