The 20-year-old man, identified as Douglas Sapirman, only used an AR 15-style rifle in the shooting, firing 24 rounds before being shot and killed by a bystander less than two minutes after the attack began, according to Greenwood police.
As Sapirman fired his rounds from a restroom to the mall food court, Elishsha Dicken, 22, of Seymour, Indiana, fired 10 shots at Sapirman from his Glock pistol, preventing “many more” deaths, Police Chief James Ison said. from Greenwood at a press conference Monday.
“He attacked the shooter from a considerable distance with a pistol – he was very skilled at that, very tactically good and as he approached the suspect he also gestured for people to get out behind him,” Ison said. “Many more people would have died last night had it not been for a responsible armed civilian who acted very quickly within the first two minutes of the shooting.”
Dicken was legally armed, Ison said.
The murdered victims were identified as the Indianapolis couple, Pedro Pineda, 56, and Rosa Mirian Rivera de Pineda, 37, and Victor Gomez, 30, who are also from Indianapolis.
Police were still looking for a motive for the shooting in Greenwood, about 15 miles south of Indianapolis, on Monday.
“Family members we spoke to were just as surprised as everyone else,” Ison said. “They said there was no indication that he was violent or unstable.”
Sapirman had several minor juvenile offenses, including a school brawl, but he had no adult criminal record, Ison said. Relatives told investigators he resigned from a position at a warehouse in May, Ison said.
The AR 15-style rifle was legally purchased in Greenwood on March 8, the police chief said. The second rifle was purchased at a gun store in Greenwood on March 9, 2021.
The mall’s surveillance video showed Sapirman entering the mall from the food court just before 5 p.m. Sunday. He went straight to a restroom in the food court, where he stayed for a little over an hour before emerging with a gun, Ison said.
Sapirman first shot Gomez and then aimed his rifle at the food court, where he shot and killed the Pinedas, who were eating at the time of the shooting, Ison said.
The gunman continued to shoot at the food court and hit a 22-year-old woman in the leg. A 12-year-old girl – identified as Bella by her mother, Alison Dick – was hit by a bullet fragment that bounced off a wall, according to Ison.
An attorney for Dicken, 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 Eli hadn’t had the courage, preparedness and willingness to protect others.”
Cases of an armed bystander assaulting an active gunman are rare, according to data from Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training at Texas State University.
According to ALERRT data, there were at least 434 active shooting attacks in the US between 2000 and 2021. Active gunman attacks were defined as attacks in which one or more gunmen killed or attempted to kill several unrelated people in a populated place.
Of those 434 active gunmen cases, an armed bystander shot the attacker in 22 of the incidents. In 10 of those, the “good guy” was an off-duty security guard or police officer, ALERRT data showed.