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Case Study: Armed Bystander Kills Mass Shooter at Indiana Mall

As concealed carriers, one of the best training tools we have is to study a variety of self defense cases and learn from them.

By evaluating these case studies and looking at what went wrong, what went right, and how it might have been handled differently, we gain a better understanding of how these incidents unfold and become better prepared to defend ourselves.

On July 17, 2022, an armed bystander fatally shot a mass shooter at a mall in Greenwood, Indiana. Let’s break it down.

Incident Breakdown

This week's concealed carry case study took place on a Sunday evening in the town of Greenwood, Indiana – a community of about 60,000 people about 45 miles south of Indianapolis.

Around 5 p.m. that evening, 20-year-old Jonathan Douglas Sapirman entered the Greenwood Park Mall where he went into a bathroom and later emerged carrying an AR-15-style rifle, according to the Associated Press.

Sapirman immediately opened fire in the mall’s food court, firing a total of 24 rounds – killing three people and injuring two.

As the man continued to shoot, 22-year-old Elisjsha Dicken, who was at the mall shopping with his girlfriend, motioned for mall-goers to exit the food court behind him.

Case Note: In the heat of the moment, it can be easy to forget about the innocent bystanders that could get caught in the crossfire. Always make sure there is no risk of hitting anyone but your intended target before shooting.

Just 15 seconds after the first shots were heard, Dicken fired 10 rounds at the shooter from around 40 yards away, hitting him eight times and fatally wounding him as he tried to retreat back into the bathroom to hide.

“He engaged the gunman from quite a distance with a handgun and was very proficient in that, very tactically sound,” Greenwood Police Department Chief Jim Ison said of Dicken, who has no formal police or military training. “[It was] nothing short of heroic.”

Following the incident, Dicken approached mall security guards and explained that he was the person who put the shooter down. When police arrived at around 6 p.m., he was brought to the station to give an official statement, which was corroborated by security camera footage.

Case Note: It is critical to remain at the scene as long as it is safe to do so. It’s always best to cooperate with law enforcement and be upfront about your part in the situation to aid in their investigation.

Police say Sapirman likely assembled his rifle during the hour he spent in the mall’s bathroom prior to the shooting based on evidence they found there, including a second rifle, a backpack, and a cell phone they discovered in a toilet.

Police also found an additional handgun and magazines containing over 100 rounds on Sapirman’s body.

The Aftermath

Following the incident, authorities were able to identify those who lost their lives in the shooting as 30-year-old Victor Gomez and a married couple – Pedro Pineda, 56, and Rosa Mirian Rivera de Pineda, 37, according to the Associated Press.

The woman and 12-year-old girl who were injured in the incident were reportedly in stable condition following the attack.

Through the course of the ensuing police investigation, it was found that Dicken did not have a concealed carry permit. However, he was legally carrying under Indiana’s recently-passed constitutional carry law, which went into effect on July 1, 2022.

Under the state’s constitutional carry law, any law-abiding person over the age of 18 is now legally allowed to conceal carry a handgun in public, regardless of whether they have a CCW license.

There are certain exceptions to this rule, of course, including the restriction of “prohibited persons” like felons, non-U.S. citizens, and those with certain mental illnesses. There is also a provision included in the law that allows private property owners to control who is allowed to carry a firearm on their grounds.

Despite the Greenwood Park Mall having a “no weapons” rule, Dicken will not be facing charges for violating the policy. In fact, the mall issued a statement applauding his actions the day after the incident.

“We grieve for the victims of yesterday’s horrific tragedy at Greenwood Park Mall. Violence has no place in this or any other community,” the statement reads. “We are grateful for the strong response of the first responders, including the heroic actions of the Good Samaritan who stopped the suspect.”

Chief Ison also praised Dicken for his quick actions at a press conference following the shooting.

“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,” he said. “Many more people would have died last night if not for a responsible armed citizen.”

In March, the city of Greenwood honored Dicken with their 2022 Citizen of the Year Award, which is annually presented to a local civilian, firefighter, police officer, and EMT who have benefited the community. 

“There were countless number of innocent lives saved that day due to his quick and selfless thinking. The City of Greenwood and the residents here owe a great debt of gratitude to Elisjsha,” Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said in his nomination letter.

Reflection

After learning the details of the encounter, it’s time to reflect on what happened and how you might have handled the same situation.

Do you think the shooter reacted appropriately? Do you think there was anything that could or should have been done differently? How would you have handled the same situation? How do you think the mall’s “no gun” policy impacted the case, and do you think the defender was right to carry despite the rule? Would you have done the same? Be sure to share your thoughts on this case study with us on social media @VedderHolsters.

Knowledge is power, and analyzing incidents like these can only serve to better prepare you to respond appropriately in the event you are faced with a similar situation. For more resources on training, information on local gun control and concealed carry laws, and general CCW tips, check out the U.S. Concealed Carry Association.

If you’re looking for a new IWB, OWB, or pocket carry holster, visit our Holsters by Gun Model page for Kydex holsters that are custom-made for your weapon of choice.

Interested in items beyond holsters? Check out our Resources Page for links to recommended products like lights, lasers, first aid, maintenance, and more, and browse our selection of belts, apparel, and accessories at our website, vedderholsters.com.

To stay up-to-date on all the latest Vedder Holsters content and offerings, check out our blog and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And be sure to visit our sister company, GeoGrit, for all of your American-made minimalist wallet needs.

Mikayla Blair

After launching her career as an award-winning journalist in the American Southwest, Mikayla Blair joined the Vedder Holsters team as a content writer in 2021. She writes about all things guns, holsters, and concealed carry, and is especially passionate about women's self-defense.

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