Thirty-two seconds. Within this small matter of time, a 24-year-old gunman opened fire in Dayton’s historic Oregon District, wounding 27 and tragically taking the lives of nine: Jordan Cofer, Monica Brickhouse, Nicholas P. Cumer, Derrick R. Fudge, Thomas J. McNichols, Lois L. Oglesby, Saeed Saleh, Logan Turner, and Beatrice N. Warren-Curtis.
The news of this tragic occurrence came on Aug. 4, 2019, shortly following the fatal shooting in El Paso, Texas that resulted in the death of 22. That summer, Dayton witnessed a series of events, such as the Memorial Day tornadoes and the KKK rally, that left an indelible mark upon the community.
In the time following these events, Dayton continues to showcase an immeasurable strength and resilience.
Featuring 18 personal testimonies, resources, and more, “Facing Gun Violence: It’s Always Close to Home for Someone” aims honor to those—the sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, dear friends—who shall always remain in our hearts and memories. Likewise, the project wishes to inspire collective healing in the Dayton community through the beauty of art and storytelling.
“Facing Gun Violence: It’s Always Close to Home for Someone” came to fruition through dedicated individuals and organizations. These individuals are the courageous storytellers who bravely shared their experiences, the volunteer writers who then transcribed their words, and the artists that passionately provided their talents.
These organizations are the Dayton Facing Project and the Dayton International Peace Museum. Connecting more than 75,000 artists, storytellers and writers alike, the Facing Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to designing a more compassionate world through dialogue.
The Dayton International Peace Museum is a “primarily volunteer-run organization and the only brick and mortar peace museum in the Western Hemisphere” that is devoted to “[inspiring] a culture of peace—locally, nationally, and internationally” according to the organization’s mission statement.
Dedicated and diligent in their endeavors, creators navigated the COVID-19 pandemic.
The week when training would begin, COVID-19 forced organizers to take the project online. Kate Geiselman, Chair of Sinclair’s English Department, took on this responsibility by contacting writers and connecting storytellers. Likewise, on the one-year anniversary of the Oregon District Shooting, organizers wanted to host a large event that would feature an array of art. Sinclair’s Theatre department and Chair Head Gina Neuerer was instrumental in this project, in that, they hosted a virtual theater event.
Additionally, “Facing Gun Violence: It’s Always Close to Home for Someone” brings awareness to a noted topic.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, an independent research organization based in Washington D.C, in 2020, gun violence accounted for 40,709 deaths. Of this number, 17,939 are attributed to homicide, murder, unintentional, or defensive gun use; meanwhile, 22,770 are attributed to suicide. In 2020 alone, 593 mass shootings occurred.
“For victims and their families, there is never a return to normal, but instead a slow acceptance of the facts and often a drive to prevent others from suffering in the same way,” writes Director of the Dayton International Peace Museum Kevin Kelly.
A profound medium, it is through storytelling that we truly understand, connect, and heal with one another. “Storytelling is so powerful, and I think that we all need our stories to be heard,” said Dr. Katherine Rowell, previous chair of the Dayton International Peace Museum.