LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The bank employee who opened fire at his Louisville workplace targeted people he knew with a rifle that was bought legally a week earlier, police said Tuesday.
Louisville Metro Police Department Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel said at a news conference that bank employee Connor Sturgeon, 25, bought the AR-15 assault-style rifle on April 4 at a local dealership.
Armed with the rifle, Sturgeon killed five people — including a close friend of Kentucky’s governor — while livestreaming the attack Monday before he was killed by police, authorities said. Another eight people were wounded.
“We do know this was targeted. He knew those individuals, of course, because he worked there,” Gwinn-Villaroel said, but didn’t give an indication of a motive behind the shooting.
Officers’ body camera video will be released Tuesday afternoon, the chief said.
Gwinn-Villaroel praised the “heroic actions” of officers who engaged the shooter without hesitation when they arrived.
“They went towards danger in order to save and preserve life,” she said. “They stopped the threat so other lives could be saved. No hesitation, and they did what they were called do to.”
Officer Nickolas Wilt, who had graduated from training just 10 days earlier, was still in critical but stable condition Tuesday after being shot in the head, according to University of Louisville Hospital Chief Medical Officer Jason Smith.
Two of the four wounded still in the hospital had injuries that were not life-threatening, Smith said.
Nine people, including two police officers, were treated for injuries from the Louisville shooting, University of Louisville Hospital spokeswoman Heather Fountaine said in an email. One of the wounded, identified as 57-year-old Deanna Eckert, later died, police said Monday night.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said he lost one of his closest friends in the shooting — Tommy Elliott — in the building not far from the minor league ballpark Louisville Slugger Field and Waterfront Park.
“Tommy Elliott helped me build my law career, helped me become governor, gave me advice on being a good dad,” said Beshear, his voice shaking with emotion. “He’s one of the people I talked to most in the world, and very rarely were we talking about my job. He was an incredible friend.”
Also killed in the shooting were Josh Barrick, Jim Tutt and Juliana Farmer, police said.
“These are irreplaceable, amazing individuals that a terrible act of violence tore from all of us,” the governor said.
It was the second time that Beshear was personally touched by a mass tragedy since becoming governor.
In late 2021, one of the towns devastated by tornadoes that tore through Kentucky was Dawson Springs, the hometown of Beshear’s father, former two-term Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear. Andy Beshear frequently visited Dawson Springs as a boy and has talked emotionally about his father’s hometown.
Beshear spoke as the investigation in Louisville continued and police searched for a motive. Crime scene investigators could be seen marking and photographing numerous bullet holes in the windows near the bank’s front door.
As part of the investigation, police descended on the neighborhood where the suspect lived, about 5 miles south of the downtown shooting. The street was blocked as federal and local officers talked to residents. One home was cordoned off with caution tape. Kami Cooper, who lives in the neighborhood, said she didn’t recall ever meeting the suspect but said it’s an unnerving feeling to have lived on the same street as someone who could do such a thing.
“I’m almost speechless. You see it on the news but not at home,” Cooper said. “It’s unbelievable, it could happen here, somebody on my street.”
A man who fled the building during the shooting told WHAS-TV that the shooter opened fire with a long rifle in a conference room in the back of the building’s first floor.
“Whoever was next to me got shot — blood is on me from it,” he told the news station, pointing to his shirt. He said he fled to a break room and shut the door.
Deputy Police Chief Paul Humphrey said the actions of responding police officers undoubtedly saved lives.
“This is a tragic event,” he said. “But it was the heroic response of officers that made sure that no more people were more seriously injured than what happened.”
Just a few hours later and blocks away, an unrelated shooting killed one man and wounded a woman outside a community college, police said.
The shooting, the 15th mass killing in the country this year, comes just two weeks after a former student killed three children and three adults at a Christian elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee, about 160 miles to the south. That state’s governor and his wife also had friends killed in that shooting.
The 15 mass shootings this year are the most during the first 100 days of a calendar year since 2009, when 16 had occurred by April 10, according to a mass killings database maintained by The Associated Press and USA Today in partnership with Northeastern University.
Going back to 2006, the first year for which data has been compiled, the years with the most mass killings were 2019 and 2022, with 45 and 42 mass killings recorded during the entire calendar year. The pace in 2009 slowed later in the year, with 32 mass killings recorded that year.
Contributing to this report were Becky Reynolds in Louisville, Bruce Schreiner in Frankfort, Kentucky, Beatrice Dupuy in New York, database journalist Larry Fenn, researchers Rhonda Shafner and Jennifer Farrar in New York and AP Technology writer Michael Liedtke in San Ramon, California.