A gunman was killed by an armed bystander. How rare is that?
02:44 - Source: CNN
Authorities revealed new details Monday on the weekend mall shooting in Greenwood, Indiana, including the identities of the gunman, three victims and the legally armed bystander who fatally shot the gunman.
The shooting rampage took place at the Greenwood Park Mall around 6 p.m. Sunday. Multiple people called 911 to report an active shooter. Three people died and two were injured as a result of the shooting. Greenwood is 15 miles south of Indianapolis.
The gunman was identified as Jonathan Douglas Sapirman, 20, who police said prepared for the shooting for a little over an hour in a bathroom before he emerged with a rifle, Greenwood Police Chief James Ison said.
The victims were identified as Indianapolis couple Pedro Pineda, 56, and Rosa Mirian Rivera de Pineda, 37, and Victor Gomez, 30, who is also from Indianapolis.
Police identified Jonathan Douglas Sapirman as the gunman.
The legally armed bystander who ended up shooting the gunman was identified as Elisjsha Dicken, 22, of Seymour, Indiana. Dicken was able to neutralize the gunman within two minutes after the gunman had already fired 24 rounds from his rifle. Dicken fired 10 shots from his Glock handgun.
“He engaged the gunman from quite a distance with a handgun – was very proficient in that, very tactically sound and as he moved to close in on the suspect he was also motioning for people to exit behind him,” Ison said. “Many more people would have died last night if not for a responsible armed citizen that took action very quickly within the first two minutes of the shooting.”
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb tweeted Monday that the state is grateful for the “quick, heroic actions taken by an individual citizen and first responders on Sunday evening in Greenwood, surely preventing further loss of life and injuries.”
“I stand with the community in grieving the loss of lives, and my thoughts are also with the many people impacted by this traumatic incident, including innocent bystanders whose lives are forever changed,” Holcomb tweeted.
There have been more than 350 mass shootings this year, according to Gun Violence Archive. Like CNN, the archive defines a mass shooting as one in which four or more people are shot, not including the shooter.
Greenwood now joins a slew of others also grappling with the aftermath of mass shootings, including communities reeling from recent massacres at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and a July Fourth parade in Highland Park, Illinois.
Gunman had 2 weapons, more than 100 rounds of ammunition
Sapirman, the gunman, had two rifles, a Glock pistol and more than 100 rounds of ammunition with him at the time of the shooting, but only used an AR 15-style rifle, Ison said.
The AR 15-style rifle was legally purchased on March 8 in Greenwood, the police chief said. The second rifle was purchased March 9, 2021, from a Greenwood gun store.
Mall surveillance video showed Sapirman entering the mall from the food court around 5 p.m. Sunday and going directly to the restroom located in the food court where he stayed for a little over an hour before emerging holding a rifle, Ison said.
Sapirman first shot Gomez, then pointed his rifle into the food court, where he fatally shot the Pinedas, who were eating dinner at the time of the shooting, Ison said.
The shooter kept firing into the food court, striking a 22-year-old woman in the leg. A 12-year-old girl – identified by her mother, Alison Dick, as Bella – was hit with a bullet fragment that ricocheted off of a wall, Ison said.
Bella was with her grandmother and two of her sisters at the food court when they heard a loud noise, Dick said in a Facebook Live video.
“Bella and one sister ran out of the mall and my mom and other daughter crawled into a shoe store and hid in the back room,” Dick told CNN in a text message. While running, Bella felt “something like a stab in her back,” Dick said in the Facebook Live video.
Two minutes into the melee, the shooter was confronted by what police described as a “good Samaritan” who was shopping with his girlfriend. With a Glock handgun in his possession, Dicken shot at the gunman, causing him to retreat back into restroom before falling to the ground.
Dicken’s attorney, Guy A. Relford, said in a statement to CNN that his client is “a true American hero who saved countless lives during a horrific event that could have been so much worse if not for Eli’s courage, preparedness and willingness to protect others.”
The Greenwood Police Department has trained for a mass shooting scenario and has performed “multiple mall exercises” to prepare for active shooter situations, the police chief said.
“But I’m going to tell you, the real hero of the day is the citizen that was lawfully carrying a firearm in that food court and was able to stop this shooter almost as soon as he began,” Ison said.
It’s rare to have an armed bystander attack an active shooter, according to data from the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training at Texas State University.
There were at least 434 active shooter attacks in the US from 2000 to 2021, according to the ALERRT data. Active shooter attacks were defined as those in which one or more shooters killed or attempted to kill multiple unrelated people in a populated place.
Of those 434 active shooter cases, an armed bystander shot the attacker in 22 of the incidents. In 10 of those, the “good guy” was a security guard or an off-duty police officer, the ALERRT data said.
And having more than one armed person at the scene who is not a member of law enforcement can create confusion and carry dire risks, according to a data analysis published by The New York Times. For example, an armed bystander who shot and killed an attacker in 2021 in Arvada, Colorado, was himself shot and killed by the police who mistook him for the gunman, the Times reported.
Gunman had minor offenses on his record, police say
Police are still investigating the shooter’s motive and questioning people who were inside the mall at the time. Police are asking all witnesses to contact authorities.
Multiple agencies responded to the scene to assist, including the FBI, ATF, Johnson County Sheriff’s Department and Department of Homeland Security, Ison said.
Police cleared a backpack that was found on the scene and did not find any explosive devices, Ison said.
“This tragedy hits at the core of our community,” Greenwood Mayor Mark Meyers said in a Facebook post Sunday. “Please offer your prayers to the victims and our first responders.”
The suspect had several minor juvenile offenses, like a fight at school and that he was a juvenile runaway, but no adult record, Ison said.
Sapirman’s family told police that he had recently resigned from a position he held at a warehouse in May, Ison said.
A SWAT team clearing Sapirman’s apartment found a laptop and a can of butane in a “high temperature” oven, Ison said Monday. The laptop was damaged.
“I don’t want to speculate what his intentions were, whether it could have been to cause a fire or to damage the laptop, but we did retrieve the laptop and that is going to go to Quantico to be analyzed,” Ison said.
Herbert Stapleton, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis Field Office, said investigators need to consult with technical experts to see what’s possible.
The FBI will also be analyzing the suspect’s cell phone, which was found in a toilet in the bathroom near the mall’s food court, officials announced Monday.
“We’re working as fast as we can to try to get the phone to a point where it can be exploited, there’s no guarantee that we’ll be able to recover any data, we’re just working as fast as we can to try to get that done,” Stapleton said Monday.
CNN’s Caroll Alvarado and Sharif Paget contributed to this report.