A year after Oregon District Shooting, first-time voters want less politics, more solutions

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Mourners gather at a vigil following a nearby mass shooting, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in Dayton, Ohio. Multiple people in Ohio have been killed in the second mass shooting in the U.S. in less than 24 hours, and the suspected shooter is also deceased, police said. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Joey Nartker, who will be starting his senior year this month at Chaminade Julienne, has few memories of the Oregon District Shooting that occurred Aug. 4, 2019. He wasn’t engrossed in news coverage because he was busy trying to find out if a friend of his was all right.

“We were at our friend’s house that night in the South Park district,” Nartker said. “I called my one friend because I knew he often went there to hang out. I wanted to make sure he was OK and I was able to get ahold of him. I don’t remember much else from that night.”

For members of WDTN.com’s First-Time Voter group, the shooting affected them in different ways. One had a family member that lived in the area, one was dismayed over how the response to mass-shootings is strictly political, even by people on the street.

Nartker said many of the issues that concern mass-shootings are ones he made his mind on well before the Oregon District shooting. He wants stricter gun control and more effort put toward mental health.

Lilith Holloway, a junior at Wright State, said her uncle lives only blocks away from where the shooting took place. He was out of town on vacation when the shooting occurred. A friend and classmate of Holloway was in the Oregon District when it occurred. She found safety after running from the shooting.

Lilith Holloway

“(She) was there that night,” Holloway said. “She was a little shaken up. She wasn’t at the bar where it happened but she was there. She saw people running and she ran.”

She said the shooting put mental health upfront in her mind of concerns for the coming election. She said with so many tragedies hitting the Dayton area in 2019, and with the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, the Oregon District shooting was pushed further back into her memory. But she came away from it beliving a stronger emphasis on focusing on individual mental health is something she would like to see addressed by candidates.

Chineye Amagwu graduated from Wright State with a degree in Organizational Leadership this summer. She lives 15 minutes from the Oregon District. She moved to the United States from Nigeria in 2014 and found out people – whether elected or on the street – went to political arguments every time a mass shooting was in the news.

Chineye Amagwu

Amagwu said people automatically reach for political arguments when discussing any public issues, but more so during mass-shootings. She finds this disconcerting. She also believes there needs to be less stigma toward people with mental health issues.

“Everything revoles around (politics), especially in the U.S.,” Amagwu said. “It’s that party or this party. it’s always about politics. It doesn’t mean that’s what caused it but that’s how it’s always handled.”

Amagwu also had friends there that night. She said she hoped the shooting would bring about an emphasis on mental health issues, which seem to be a factor in many shootings.

“Mental health has definitely not been focused on,” We have not put a lot into mental health and mental health has not been deal with. External public figures, they are exaples to the people and they can show how people should react to these things. It’s an unheeding message when leaders don’t focus and don’t speak outrightly on these issues.”

Joey Nartker

Nartker said he would be looking for leaders who take mental health more seriously, especially as so many mass-shooters showed major warning signs before they committed their crimes.

“I think in (the Oregon District) case, it’s a mixture of gun control where he had too much power in his hands,” Nartker said. “But he also didn’t get the help he needed to keep this from happening.”

For the latest coverage of the Oregon District Shooting One Year Later, go here.

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