A gunman who shot five people at a suburban Indianapolis shopping mall, killing three of them before a shopper shot and killed him, was a 20-year-old local man who was apparently facing eviction, authorities said Monday.
Jonathan Sapirman, of Greenwood, began firing after leaving a bathroom at the Greenwood Park Mall shortly before it closed Sunday evening, the city's police chief, James Ison, said at a news conference.
Sapirman continued shooting people until he was shot and killed by 22-year-old Elisjsha Dicken, of Seymour, a city about 45 miles (72 kilometers) south of Greenwood, who was shopping with his girlfriend, Ison said.
“Many more people would have died last night if not for a responsible armed citizen,” said the chief, noting that authorities were still trying to determine a motive for the attack.
The Johnson County and Marion County coroners' offices identified the slain victims as a married Indianapolis couple — Pedro Pineda, 56, and Rosa Mirian Rivera de Pineda, 37 — and Victor Gomez, 30, also of Indianapolis. A woman and a 12-year-old girl who was hit by shrapnel were wounded in the attack, police said.
Although authorities said Dicken was legally armed, the mall prohibits people from carrying weapons on its property.
As of July 1, Indiana law allows anyone age 18 or older to carry a handgun in public except for those prohibited for reasons such as having a felony conviction, facing a restraining order or having a dangerous mental illness as determined by a court. Indiana’s Republican-dominated Legislature retained provisions in the law that allow private property owners to prohibit firearms.
The attack Sunday was the latest in a string of mass shootings in the U.S. Schools, churches, grocery stores and a July Fourth parade near Chicago have all become killing grounds in recent months, though the country's staggering murder rate can often be seen more clearly in individual killings that rarely make major headlines.
Authorities said Sunday that four of the victims were female and one was male, but they corrected that Monday to two males and three females.
Ison said that after Sapirman entered the mall, he walked into a bathroom where he spent about an hour before he emerged and opened fire. He said investigators believe Sapirman spent that time preparing and possibly assembling a disassembled rifle that he had brought in his backpack. He ended up firing 24 rounds within two minutes.
Ison said Sapirman used one rifle in the shooting, but in the mall bathroom investigators recovered a second rifle and a pistol.
Although police don't know a motive for the attack, Sapirman’s relatives told investigators that he recently received notice that he was being evicted from his apartment, though Ison said authorities were still trying to confirm that was the case. Relatives also said Sapirman resigned from a warehouse job in May, he said.
Sapirman had a juvenile record, including for a fight at school and an incident where he ran away from home, but he had no criminal record as an adult, Ison said.
He said relatives told investigators that Sapirman has been practicing shooting at a gun range, and that records obtained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confirmed he had frequented the range and bought ammunition there over the past two years.
Mark Myers, the mayor of Greenwood, a city of roughly 60,000 people just south of Indianapolis, said the grieving community is shocked to be the scene of a mass shooting.
“I don’t want to be among the mayors that has to share these statements. But sadly, I am,” he said. “I grieve for these senseless killings, and I ache for the scars that are left behind on the victims and on our community.”