The second person in the 2007 Toyota Corolla that drove with Dayton gunman Connor Betts has been identified as his best friend, 24-year-old Charles 'Chace' Beard. Beard, who knew Betts from childhood and attended Bellbrook High School with him, was shot and critically wounded in the Sunday Dayton Shooting, though he survived and is recovering in the hospital.
Beard, an employee at Wright-Patterson Air Force base, according to his FaceBook profile, was in the chorus in a 2012 production of Rogers & Hammerstein's musical version of Cinderella with Betts, and there are numerous photos of them together. Despite their close relationship, Beard’s name is also said to be among those on Betts’ “hit list,” which he wrote while he was a sophomore at Bellbrook High School.
According to the Daily Mail, Beard and Betts’ sister, 22-year-old Megan Betts, were dropped off in Dayton’s Oregon District the night of the shooting and were both “among the first victims” shot when Betts opened fire with a .233-caliber rifle.
As a survivor of the shooting and as a sole survivor of the car journey in the hours leading up to the massacre, police are now considering Beard a key witness and the best chance at discovering Betts’ motive. As of Monday, Beard was still recovering in the hospital, though he was said to be actively speaking with police amid their ongoing investigation.
As has previously been reported, Betts, 24, opened fire into the streets of the Oregon District, a busy scene for Dayton’s nightlife, at around 1 a.m. local time on Sunday. The shooting came less than 24 hours after a gunman entered a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 and injuring dozens more. In the Dayton shooting, nine people were killed and more than 20 were injured.
Along with Betts’ sister, the victims include Thomas McNichols, a father-of-four whose children ranged in age from 2 to 8 years old. ranged in age from 2 to 8 years old, a student at Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania, was also killed. Lois Oglesby, who had welcomed her third child only a month ago, was also among the victims.
The other victims include Saeed Saleh, Derrick Fudge, Beatrice Warren-Curtis, Monica Storey Brickhouse and Logan Turner.
Betts was shot and killed by police within a minute of opening fire. His motive for the shooting remains unclear. The shooting marked the 250th mass shooting in the United States this year.