Elisjsha Dicken is a 22-year-old Indiana man who is being praised as a hero for stopping the mass shooter who gunned down three people and wounded two Sunday at Greenwood Park Mall in Greenwood, Indiana, just south of Indianapolis.
The gunman, named by the Marion County coroner as Jonathan Sapirman, 20, of Greenwood, was shot and killed at the scene by Dicken, who took action only two minutes into the rampage. Greenwood’s mayor and police chief are calling Dicken, a good Samaritan.
In a news conference on July 18, Greenwood police Chief James Ison described the dramatic confrontation between Dicken and the shooter, who had opened fire on people sitting in the food court. Ison said he believed Dicken saved many lives. “[Dicken’s] actions were nothing short of heroic. He engaged the gunman from quite a distance with a handgun. Was very proficient in that, very tactically sound,” said Ison, who revealed that the shooting was captured on surveillance video. “And, as he moved to close in on the suspect, he was also motioning for people to exit behind him.”
You can read more about Sapirman’s troubled background here.
“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 this shooting,” Ison said.
Dicken’s name was released by authorities on July 18. City and law enforcement officials said he had authorized them to release his name to the public. Dicken was carrying the gun lawfully under the state’s new constitutional carry law, police said, although the mall had a policy of not allowing weapons on its property.
What is constitutional carry in Indiana? It means a permit is not needed to carry a handgun outside a home or business in Indiana. The law went into place on July 1, 2022, according to WTHR-TV.
Mayor Mark Myers wrote that police had confirmed that four people died and two were injured, including a 12-year-old girl who suffered minor injuries. The four deaths include the shooter. The deceased victims were named by Marion County and Johnson County coroners as Pedro Pineda, 56, of Indianapolis; Rosa Miriam Rivera de Pineda, 37, of Indianapolis; and Victor Gomez, 30, of Indianapolis. The Pinedas were husband and wife.
Read about the victims here.
“We are sickened by yet another type of incident like this in our country, in our city,” Chris Bailey, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department assistant chief, said in a news conference on July 17, 2022.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Dicken Shot Sapirman After He Exited From a Food Court Restroom & Started Killing Diners, Police Said
Ison said in the Monday, July 18, news conference that Sapirman, 20, of Greenwood entered the mall through the food court entrance at 4:54 p.m. He walked directly to the food court restroom. He exited the restroom 1 hour and 2 minutes later.
He shot and killed victim Gomez outside the restroom. He pointed his rifle into the food court, where the married victims were eating dinner, and shot them to death. He then shot more rounds into the food court, striking a 22-year-old female, who is at a hospital recovering from a leg wound, the chief said. A bullet fragment ricocheted off the wall, striking a 12-year-old girl who was running away. Her minor wound was treated at the hospital, where a small piece of metal jacket was removed.
The shooter was then stopped at 5:57 p.m. by Dicken. He was armed with a pistol and engaged the shooter as Sapirman stood outside the restroom area firing into the food court, Ison said.
“We are very thankful for a young 22-year-old man (Dicken) who stopped this violent act,” the mayor said in a news conference on July 18. “This young man — Greenwood’s good Samaritan — acted within seconds, stopping the shooter and saving countless lives.” Myers declared the city and state “grateful for his heroism.” He said the good Samaritan was a “young man processing a lot” who needed space and time.
Dicken fired several times, hitting Sapirman, who tried to retreat into the restroom but fell to the ground after being shot, Ison said. Police recovered 24 rifle rounds fired by the suspect and 10 handgun rounds fired by Dicken.
Authorities also praised Dicken in news conferences shortly after the mass shooting. “We do know that someone we are calling the good Samaritan was able to shoot the assailant and stop further bloodshed,” the mayor wrote before Dicken’s name had become public.
“This person saved lives tonight. On behalf of the city of Greenwood, I am grateful for his quick action and heroism in this situation,” Ison said. “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.”
2. Dicken Praised Firearms as the ‘Only True Badge of Liberty’; the Shooter Was Armed With a Long Gun & Multiple Magazines, Police Say
On Facebook, Dicken says he lives in Columbus, Indiana, and went to CSA New Tech for high school.
In 2014, he shared a picture of an armed military member with a caption that read, “The reason terrorists can’t sleep at night. And the reason you can.” However, most of his posts are just about friends or Call of Duty and Minecraft.
He also shared a post that read, “Arms are the only true badge of liberty.”
In 2013, Dicken also shared a photo of a young girl with a gun with a caption that reads, “Teach your daughters to shoot, because a restraining order is just a piece of paper. Share if you believe women should be able to protect themselves.”
He also shared a graphic that reads, “Dear God, why do you allow so much violence in schools? Signed a concerned student. Dear concerned student, I’m not allowed in schools. God.”
In 2012, Dicken shared a prayer chain for the students of Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The weapon used in the mass shooting was a Sig Sauer Model M400 5.56-caliber rifle, Ison said. He also had a Glock pistol “on his person,” said Ison, but the only weapon Sapirman used was the Sig Sauer rifle. “He had over 100 rounds of ammunition on his person and in his possession,” Ison said.
According to Ison, authorities cleared a backpack at the scene, in the restroom. The gunman had a second rifle, this one inside it, he said. Authorities had been concerned there was an explosive device in the backpack but determined there was not one, he said.
Ison said authorities were shaken to their core.
3. Dicken, Who Has No Police Training or Military Background, Was Shopping at the Mall With His Girlfriend When the Mass Shooting Occurred
According to Ison, Dicken, had gone to the mall with his girlfriend to shop when the mass shooting broke out. He was wearing shorts and a T-shirt. He approached mall security to explain he was the person who had shot the gunman, Ison said.
“He has no police training or military background,” Ison said. He said that Dicken was interviewed by police, but his statements were confirmed by the surveillance video.
He added that law enforcement officers ran to help after the shooting, some who weren’t on duty, after the call came in to police. “We had a lot of self-reporting [law enforcement officials]. … Everyone runs to help,” Ison said.
Ison said he believed the gunman was in the restroom for so long because he was preparing.
The tragedy has traumatized the community.
“Today is very tough,” Mayor Myers said in a news conference on July 18. “I grieve for these senseless killings.”
“This tragedy hits at the core of our community. Please offer your prayers to the victims and our first responders,” the mayor wrote in an earlier statement.
4. Dicken Is Being Praised as a Hero on Social Media as Well, With People Contrasting His Quick Actions to the Inaction in Uvalde, Texas
Dicken was widely praised as a hero on social media. Some people compared his quick actions to the inaction by law enforcement officers when an active shooter murdered children and teachers May 24 at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
“Every time i think of how many lives Elisjsha Dicken potentially saved in Greenwood I think of the El paso shooting which killed nearly 2 dozen people #GreenwoodParkMall,” wrote one Twitter user.
“The courage and competence of Elisjsha Dicken saved lives. Bloody well done!” wrote another.
His actions also quickly became part of the gun control debate in the United States. “#HERO and armed civilian #ElisjshaDicken shot and killed the shooter at a supposedly “gun free zone” #GreenwoodMall Indiana yesterday. Imagine the magnitude of this tragedy if the civilian didn’t neutralize the threat?!” wrote one person on Twitter.
People also posted on social media as word of the active shooter initially spread Sunday night. “Has anyone heard there is an active shooter in greenwood mall right now. Our friends daughter is locked in the store she works at,” wrote one person.
A man wrote on Facebook, “Shooting at the Greenwood Park Mall. Active shooter brought a semi automatic weapon into the mall, came out of the bathroom with it in hand and starting unloading, killing and injuring civilians.”
One person at the mall wrote, “Active shooter Greenwood(Indiana) mall, barely made it out through the stampede but thank The Good Lord above, I did. Didn’t hear any shots but I just saw a stampede of people scrambling over each other mumbling about a shooter!!! And I ran like hell in front of the pack and screamed for everyone else to ‘go they said there’s a shooter!’ My legs barely made it to the truck I was so scared.'”
5. The Gunman’s Motive Remains Unclear
Ison said on Monday that police have not determined Sapirman’s motive yet. Ison said that Sapirman, who lived alone, had visited shooting ranges and may have received an eviction notice. He left his warehouse job in May, the chief said.
He had a troubled childhood, documented in a battle for custody between his brother and mother.
The oven was on in Sapirman’s apartment when police entered it, Ison said. There was a laptop in the oven and can of butane, he said. It is being analyzed at Quantico because it was damaged due to heat. He placed his cell phone in a bathroom toilet at the mall. Authorities also want to analyze that, but it was damaged by the water.
Police said the motive was still “being sorted out.”
“We’re still putting the pieces together,” Ison said in the news conference. “I don’t have a motive yet.”