Classmates: Ohio gunman kept a 'hit list' and a 'rape list'
DAYTON, Ohio — High school classmates of the gunman who killed nine people in Dayton, Ohio, say he was suspended years ago for compiling a "hit list" and a "rape list," and questioned how he could have been allowed to buy the military-style weapon used in this weekend's attack.
The accounts emerged after police said there was nothing in the background of 24-year-old Connor Betts that would have prevented him from purchasing an AR 15-style rifle with an extended ammunition magazine that he used to open fire outside a crowded bar early Sunday. Police on patrol in the entertainment district fatally shot him less than a minute later.
The 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 two of the classmates, a man and a woman who are both now 24 and spoke on condition of anonymity out of concern they might face harassment.
"There was a kill list and a rape list, and my name was on the rape list," said the female classmate.
A former cheerleader, the woman said she didn't really know Betts and was surprised when a police officer called her cellphone during her freshman year to tell her that her name was included 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."
The male classmate, who was on the track team with Betts, said Betts routinely threatened violence toward 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."
Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools officials declined to comment on those accounts, only confirming 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, who also spoke on condition of anonymity due to concerns of harassment, recounted to AP that he was on a school bus when a uniformed police officer came on board, asked for Betts by name and then escorted him off.
It's not clear what became of that investigation. Police Chief Michael Brown in Sugarcreek Township, which has jurisdiction over the Bellbrook school, wouldn't answer any questions about Betts from an AP reporter Monday. Asked about a hit list in high school, the chief said "I don't know anything about that."
Later, Brown's department emailed media outlets "everything we have on Connor Betts." The file included a 2015 crash report from when Betts ran his car into a ditch and a copy of a 2012 Ohio state law that requires all sealed records of juvenile crimes to be expunged either after 5 years or on the offender's 23rd birthday. Department officials did not respond to questions about whether those records still exist.
Though Betts, who was 17 in 2012, was not named publicly by authorities as the author of the hit list, the former classmates said it was common knowledge within the school he was the one suspended over the incident.