LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
And now to Dayton, Ohio, a city in shock this morning as well after a gunman opened fire earlier today, killing nine people and wounding more than two dozen. Nan Whaley is Dayton's mayor and she joins us now. Thank you so much for being with us, Mayor. And...
NAN WHALEY: Good morning.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...Our condolences to your city.
WHALEY: Good morning. Thank you for your condolences.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So please give us a sense of where this tragedy took place. I understand it was in downtown.
WHALEY: Yes, it was in what we call the Oregon District. It's an area that is - actually, by the American Planning Association, was called the best area in the country - just very walkable, brick streets, lots of different local-owned businesses, lots of young people that like to be there all through the day and night.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: What can you tell us about the condition of those who were injured?
WHALEY: Well, the folks were very sad that we have lost - nine people have lost their lives. And 26 people have been transported to different hospitals. This was an incident that happened in less than one minute. And without the heroic nature of our police department, hundreds could have been injured or died.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Have you had a chance to meet with any of the families or the injured themselves?
WHALEY: We're in the process of notifying the victims' families, and I plan to try to see them as soon as possible.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Can you tell us anything about the suspect or his motives?
WHALEY: We don't know his motive yet. We know that he was carrying a high-capacity assault rifle with extra magazines, that he was wearing body armor and that, you know, he was able to kill nine people in the course of less than 60 seconds.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: But beyond that, any idea why he may have done what he did?
WHALEY: No, we do not know.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: We are learning, and you have mentioned, about how quickly Dayton police and first responders reacted to this attack. Your assistant police chief suggested that many more people might have been shot if not for their actions.
WHALEY: Absolutely, that they were there on-site and the heroic nature of them moving towards the shooter as quickly as possible saved countless number of lives. This is an area of the city - it was - this was outside. He was moving, you know, towards the building. Thousands of people are in this area, you know, every Saturday night.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: How are you feeling when something like this happens to your city? I mean, can you just explain a little bit about what it feels like when something this horrific happens?
WHALEY: Look; we're the 250th mass shooting of this year. And so, you know, dozens and dozens of mayors from across the country have reached out because, unfortunately, we all go through this now. And that's unfortunate. It says something I think pretty terrible about our country. And it's so unnecessary for our communities and our families to have this pain and loss of life.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: As you know, there was another shooting in El Paso, Texas. Even though it is so very far away - two events so close together. There is a lot of discussion, of course, about why that may be. You are the mayor of this city. Is there anything that you think, moving forward, might help have this not happen again?
WHALEY: Yeah. So in Dayton, you know, this was the second tragedy to actually hit our city this summer. First, we had a - I think 14 tornadoes roared through our town in May. And then, this morning, we faced this mass shooting. I think the difference is that one of these tragedies was completely preventable. One of these tragedies has happened 250 times this year in our country. And yet, with one of these tragedies, we continue to see no action to get any changes. We can change laws. We can make this not happen. And that's the frustrating part for cities all across the country right now.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: What is your message to your city today? What will you be telling the people whom you meet with?
WHALEY: Our city - you know, for folks in our community, you know, we are a very tight-knit, resilient city that has a lot of grit. And so I know that, you know, there will be a lot of hugging, a lot of praying, a lot of anger, a lot of screaming, a lot of calling for something to change.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Mayor Nan Whaley of Dayton, Ohio. Thank you very much.
WHALEY: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.