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Three people were killed and two were injured after a shooter opened fire in a mall food court in Greenwood, Indiana, on Sunday evening, officials said.
The shooter is also dead, having been shot by an armed bystander who authorities credit with stopping the attack. On Monday, police identified the bystander as Elisjsha Dicken, 22.
“This person saved lives tonight,” Greenwood Mayor Mark W. Myers said in a statement. “On behalf of the City of Greenwood, I am grateful for his quick action and heroism in this situation.”
Dicken, who was at the mall shopping with his girlfriend, has requested privacy while he processes the shooting, Greenwood Police Chief James Ison said at a news conference Monday.
The deceased victims are 56-year-old Pedro Pineda and 37-year-old Rosa Mirian Rivera de Pineda, a married couple, and 30-year-old Victor Gomez. A 12-year-old girl and a 22-year-old woman, who were not named, were injured.
“This has shaken us to our core,” Greenwood Police Chief James Ison said in a news conference Sunday night. “This isn’t something we have seen here in Greenwood before — it is absolutely horrendous and our thoughts and prayers are with those loved ones hurting tonight.”
“The real hero of the day is the citizen that was lawfully carrying a firearm in that food court and was able to stop the shooter almost as soon as he began,” Ison added.
The suspect was identified as Jonathan Sapirman, 20. Police said he had more than 100 rounds of ammunition and three firearms, which were purchased locally in March. Sapirman regularly visited a shooting range and purchased ammunition there over the past two years, family members told police.
A motive for the attack is currently unknown. Police said Sapirman had no criminal record as an adult, but a few “minor incidents” as a juvenile, including getting into a fight at school and being a runaway. He resigned from his job at a warehouse in May, and police are investigating whether he was in the process of being evicted from his apartment.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said in a tweet that he was monitoring the investigation of the shooting and that Indiana State Police were assisting.
“Lives were lost today, and I’m thinking about all the victims of this horrible incident, now and in the days and weeks to come,” Holcomb said.
Instances of mass shootings being stopped by a so-called good guy with a gun are exceptionally uncommon, despite being widely mythologized by opponents of gun control legislation.
Out of 433 mass shootings that occurred in the US between 2000 and 2021, an armed bystander stopped the shooter 22 times — and 10 of those were security guards or off-duty police, according to data collected by the New York Times. It was almost twice as common for a bystander to stop the attack by physically subduing the shooter.
“The actual data show that some of these kind of heroic, Hollywood moments of armed citizens taking out active shooters are just extraordinarily rare,” Adam Lankford, a University of Alabama professor and expert in mass shootings, told the Times.
According to a Stanford Law School study looking at 37 years of national data, states that legalized concealed carry of firearms saw a 13% to 15% rise in violent crime 10 years after these laws were enacted, Vice reported.
Dozens of these “good guys with a gun” have confronted who they thought was an intruder in their home — and realized they’d instead accidentally shot a friend or family member.
The American Public Health Association says gun violence in the US is a public health crisis. It is a leading cause of premature death in the country, responsible for more than 38,000 deaths annually. As of July 18, at least 24,150 people have died from gun violence this year, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive.
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