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Family of Dayton shooting suspect apologizes after posting flattering obituary for gunman

Posted at 7:09 AM, Aug 15, 2019

The family of the Dayton, Ohio, shooter published glowing obituaries of both the gunman and one of the first casualties in the massacre -- his younger sister, 22-year-old Megan Betts.

The obituaries were published Tuesday on the website for the Conner & Koch Life Celebration Home in Bellbrook, Ohio, but the remembrance for gunman Connor Betts was removed Wednesday at the family's request, according to the funeral home.

Connor Betts' parents later updated the message on their son's obituary page.

"Stephen and Moira Betts apologize that the wording of the obituary for their son Connor was insensitive in not acknowledging the terrible tragedy that he created," the message said. "In their grief, they presented the son that they knew which in no way reduces the horror of his last act. We are deeply sorry."

The obituary for Betts, who was killed by police after he took nine lives in the August 4 mass shooting, was shorter than his sister's. Both writeups encouraged people to donate to an ecology institute in nearby Yellow Springs instead of sending flowers.

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A now-removed page for the shooter also included 21 photos. They ranged from his younger days doing martial arts to more recent images of him drinking beer and smiling with family members. The obituary said he was a grill cook who loved reading, video games and music.

He "will be missed immensely by his friends, family, and especially his good dog Teddy," it says.

Neither obituary mentions the shooting, or that Betts was killed by her brother.

A young man drawn to violence

Investigators and those who knew Connor Betts have described him as bent on violence. Former classmates said he kept a list of people he wanted to kill or rape, and he was in a "pornogrind" band known for its graphic, violent lyrics.

The 24-year-old also enjoyed shooting, a friend said. A Twitter account that appears to belong to him -- and whose bio proclaimed, "I'm going to hell and I'm not coming back" -- retweeted far left-wing and anti-police posts.

Armed with a .223-caliber high-capacity rifle, Betts fired 41 shots in less than 30 seconds that night in Dayton, killing his sister as well as eight seemingly random bystanders, police said.

In a statement following the shooting, the Betts family said they were "shocked and devastated" by what happened and were cooperating with police. They pleaded for privacy while they mourned.

A woman answering the phone at Conner & Koch said the obituaries came from the Betts family. Another woman answering the phone on a follow-up call said Megan Betts' obituary also appeared in a local paper, while her brother's had not.

A younger sister about to graduate from college

The Dayton Daily News published Megan Betts' obituary.

It calls her by her nickname, Baby Chica, and says she worked at a Bed Bath & Beyond in Centerville and was scheduled to graduate from Wright State University in December with a degree in earth science.

"Megan was fascinated with rocks, starting in primary school when she would bring home rock specimens of asphalt and concrete from the playground. This blossomed into her love of geology, the earth and space. She hoped to work for NASA to be a part of exploring the viability of life on other planets," it says.

She was in Girl Scouts for 12 years, swam avidly, baked, sewed, collected seashells and sea glass, wrote poetry and short stories, performed in plays, blew trumpet in the Bellbrook High School marching band and sang in a Wright State chorale.

"Megan was known as a loving, caring, and supportive friend, always ready to help and do anything she could to make their lives better. They will remember her laughter, her beautiful smile, and her kind heart," the obituary says. "The world is a darker place without her."

Nick Boutis, executive director of the Glen Helen Ecology Institute, to which the family directed donations, called Megan Betts' obituary "a lovely remembrance of a person who deserves to be mourned and honored. And, of a person who loved Glen Helen.

"It's a reminder that, within the larger tragedy, there is a grieving family that is looking to channel their grief into a cause that matters to them," he said in an email.