Indiana ‘good Samaritan’ who took out mass shooter at mall hailed for heroism

Lisa R. Parker

The good Samaritan hailed as a hero for taking out a mass shooter at an Indiana shopping mall was allowed to carry a firearm in public under the state’s newly enacted constitutional carry law.

Police said Monday that Elisjsha Dicken, 22, of Seymour, Indiana, fatally shot the suspect less than two minutes after gunfire erupted Sunday at the Greenwood Park Mall in Greenwood, taking the lives of three shoppers and wounding two others.

Greenwood Police Chief James Ison said Mr. Dicken did not appear to have a permit but was carrying legally under the constitutional carry law, which was passed in March and went into effect July 1. The law eliminated the permit requirement for legal owners to bring their handguns in public.

“Many more people would have died last night if not for the responsible armed citizen who took action very quickly, within the first two minutes of the shooting,” Chief Ison said at a Monday press conference in Greenwood, a southern Indianapolis suburb of about 60,000 people.

The incident provided grist to the heated national debate over gun control versus gun rights, as lawmakers wrestle with how to combat this year’s rash of deadly mass shootings.

Those killed were identified as 30-year-old Victor Gomez, who was shot seconds after the gunman exited a mall restroom. The shooter then fired at the food court, killing 56-year-old Pedro Pineda and his wife, 37-year-old Rosa Pineda, as they ate dinner.

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“This tragedy hits at the core of our community,” Greenwood Mayor Mark W. Myers said in a statement.

The gunman killed at the scene was Jonathan Douglas Sapirman, 20, of Greenwood. He had a juvenile record but no adult criminal history, and he quit his job at a warehouse in May. Police said the motive for the attack was unknown.

The incident marked the latest in a grim procession of deadly U.S. mass shootings this year carried out by young gunmen targeting what Americans have long viewed as safe spaces: an elementary school, a grocery store, a medical office, a Fourth of July parade.

In Indiana, the difference was that an armed bystander who didn’t hesitate was credited with preventing the wrongdoer from claiming even more lives.

“We’re very thankful for a young 22-year-old man who stopped this violent act,” Mr. Myers said. “This young man, Greenwood’s good Samaritan, acted within seconds, stopping the shooter and saving countless lives. Our city, our community and our state [are] grateful for his heroism in this situation.”

Police said the gunman walked from his apartment about a mile to the mall carrying a bag with ammunition, two rifles and a handgun. He purchased the rifles in March in Greenwood. The only weapon fired in the attack was a Sig Sauer 400M .556 semi-automatic rifle.

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The gunman entered the mall at 4:54 p.m. Sunday and went into a restroom near the food court, where he stayed for one hour and two minutes. He left his cellphone in the toilet. He exited the bathroom and began firing at 5:56 p.m., police said.

“At 5:57 p.m., the shooter was confronted by our good Samaritan,” Chief Ison said. “The good Samaritan was armed with a pistol and engaged the shooter as he stood outside the restroom area, firing into the food court.”

Mr. Dicken fired several rounds at Sapirman with a Glock pistol.

“The suspect attempted to retreat back into the restroom and failed, and fell to the ground after being shot,” Chief Ison said.

Sapirman was pronounced dead at the scene. Police recovered 24 rifle rounds from the attacker and 10 rounds fired by Mr. Dicken.

A 22-year-old woman hit in the leg was recovering at an Indianapolis hospital. A 12-year-old girl struck in the back by a bullet fragment that ricocheted off a wall was treated and released.

Mr. Dicken, wearing shorts and a T-shirt, was shopping with his girlfriend when the shooting began.

Based on video footage, “I will say his actions were nothing short of heroic,” Chief Ison said.

“He engaged the gunman from point of distance with a handgun,” the chief said. “He was very proficient in that, very tactically sound. As he moved to close in on the suspect, he was also motioning for people to exit behind him. To our knowledge, he has no police training and no military background.”

Afterward, Mr. Dicken approached mall security to identify himself.

“He cooperated fully when officers arrived,” Chief Ison said. “He actually approached mall security and told them that he was the one who neutralized the shooter and waited for the officers to arrive.”

Indiana became the 24th state with a constitutional carry law after Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, signed the legislation in March, according to the National Rifle Association. Indiana gun buyers must pass background checks and abide by other state and federal restrictions.

Mr. Dicken agreed to let police release his name but asked for the public to give him “time to process and grieve himself before reaching out to him,” Chief Ison said.

“He’s a young man processing a lot,” Mr. Myers said. “I ask that you give him space and time to be able to process what he’s gone through.”

Police searched Sapirman’s apartment and found a laptop and a can of butane inside the oven, which was turned on high heat. He lived alone. Police were checking a report that he had been served an eviction notice.

Superman’s family said he was a regular at a local firing range. Records obtained by agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives showed that he had been practicing and buying ammunition at Range USA for about two years.

Greenwood Park Mall was closed Monday. In a statement, the mall thanked “the strong response of the first responders, including the heroic actions of the Good Samaritan who stopped the suspect.”

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