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As Louisville police investigate what led up to bank shooting that left 5 dead, several victims remain hospitalized

<i>Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal/AP</i><br/>
Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal/AP

By Elizabeth Wolfe and Laura Ly, CNN

As Louisville investigators piece together what led up to a mass shooting inside a downtown bank that left five people dead, several victims remain hospitalized, including a police officer in critical condition after a shootout with the 25-year-old gunman.

The gunman, identified by police as employee Connor Sturgeon, was livestreaming online as he carried out the shooting at Old National Bank, officials said. He opened fire inside a conference room during a morning staff meeting, Rebecca Buchheit-Sims, a manager at the bank, told CNN.

Buchheit-Sims, who was attending the meeting virtually, watched in horror as the shooting played out on her computer screen, saying the incident “happened very quickly.”

“I witnessed people being murdered. I don’t know how else to say that,” she said.

One of the hospitalized victims, 57-year-old Deana Eckert, died later Monday, police announced, though it is unclear if she was among the three people in critical condition earlier in the day.

The four other victims, who died Monday morning, were identified by police as Joshua Barrick, 40; Juliana Farmer, 45; Tommy Elliott, 63; and James Tutt, 64.

Sturgeon, whose LinkedIn profile showed he had interned at the bank for three summers and been employed there full-time for close to two years, had been notified that he was going to be fired from his job at the bank, according to a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation.

The source said the gunman left behind a note for his parents and a friend indicating he planned to carrying out a shooting at his workplace, though it is unclear when the message was found.

The gunman, who was still firing when police arrived, was killed in a shootout with officers, police officials said. At least two officers, including one who was shot in the head, were injured during the gunfire.

Monday’s massacre is the 146th mass shooting so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, as such tragedies continue to strike at the hearts of American communities while they go about their daily lives. It also falls exactly two weeks after three children and three adults were killed in a shooting at a Christian school in neighboring Tennessee, fueling a fierce fight between Democratic and Republican state lawmakers over gun control.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has ordered flags across the state to fly at half-staff until Friday evening in honor of the victims, but some Democratic lawmakers are concerned that the expressions of grief will come and go without meaningful gun violence solutions.

“My worry is that everybody will raise their fists in anger and mourn and then in six weeks, eight weeks we go back to doing the same — nothing,” state Sen. David Yates told CNN Monday. “I hope that they all don’t have to die in vain like so many of the other victims of these mass shootings. Maybe something positive can come from it.”

President Joe Biden also echoed his repeated push for gun reform legislation and called on Republican lawmakers to take action.

“Too many Americans are paying for the price of inaction with their lives. When will Republicans in Congress act to protect our communities?,” the president said in a tweet.

Members of the Old National Bank executive team, including CEO Jim Ryan, were in Louisville Monday on the heels of the shooting, the company said on Facebook.

“As we await more details, we are deploying employee assistance support and keeping everyone affected by this tragedy in our thoughts and prayers,” Ryan said in a statement that morning.

How the shooting unfolded

The shooting began around 8:30 a.m., police said, about 30 minutes before the bank opens to the public. Bank staff were holding their morning meeting in a conference room when the shooter opened fire, Buchheit-Sims, the bank manager, said.

One bank employee frantically called her husband as she sheltered inside a locked vault, the husband, Caleb Goodlett told CNN affiiliate WLKY. By the time he called 911, police were already aware of the shooting, he said.

“Just a very traumatic phone call to get,” Goodlett told the affiliate, adding that he has since seen his wife and she is okay.

The gunman died at the scene after being shot by police during an exchange of gunfire, officials said.

Nickolas Wilt, a 26-year-old rookie officer, ran toward the gunfire and was shot in the head, interim Louisville Metro Police Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel said. He had graduated from the police academy just 10 days before the shooting.

Wilt underwent brain surgery and was in critical but stable condition as of Monday afternoon, the chief said.

The gun used in the shooting was an AR-15-style rifle, a federal law enforcement source told CNN. The semi-automatic rifle is the most popular sporting rifle in the US, and 30% of gun owners reported having owned an AR-15 or similar-style rifle, according to the 2021 National Firearms Survey. The AR-15 and its offshoots have been the weapon of choice in many of the most horrific mass shootings in recent memory, including the Covenant school shooting in Nashville just two weeks ago.

The bank sits on the fringe of Louisville’s developing downtown business district, state Sen. Gerald Neal, who represents the district where the shooting happened, told CNN. “You wouldn’t really expect anything to happen at this location,” he said.

Despite the shock of the shooting in Kentucky’s most populated city, Neal believes discussions about gun control in the state will still be an “uphill battle.”

“This is not a state that’s friendly to those who would think about gun reform … or gun control in some way or even reasonable, as you might consider, gun steps that we could take in terms of restricting them. This is not that state. However, the effort continues.”

Victim was ‘incredible friend,’ mentor to government leaders

One of the shooting victims, bank senior vice president Tommy Elliot, was remembered by several local and state leaders as a close mentor and beloved community leader.

“Tommy was a great man. He cared about finding good people and putting them in positions to do great things. He embraced me when I was very young and interested in politics,” state senator Yates told CNN. “He was about lifting people up, building them up.”

Elliot was also close friends with Gov. Beshear and Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg, who said he spent Monday morning at the hospital with Elliot’s wife.

“It is painful, painful for all of the families I know,” Greenberg said while speaking with CNN’s Jake Tapper. “It just hits home in a unique way when you know one of the victims so well.”

Beshear remembered Elliot an “incredible friend” and also called the others who were killed “amazing people” who will be missed and mourned by their communities.

The city is setting up a family assistance center in collaboration with the American Red Cross to provide support for those impacted, Greenberg said.

“To the survivors and the families, our entire city is here to wrap our arms around you,” Greenberg added.

Gunman had worked at bank years

Before Monday’s shooting, the gunman had not did not have “any prior engagement” with police, according to Gwinn-Villaroel.

He had years of experience, however, at Old National Bank, where he interned for three consecutive summers before being hired as a Commercial Development Professional in June 2021, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He graduated from the University of Alabama in December 2020, where he earned his bachelors degree and a masters degree in finance, according to a spokesperson for the university.

One of Sturgeon’s former high school classmates who knew the shooter and his family well said news of his actions Monday came as a “total shock.”

“I can’t even say how much this doesn’t make sense. I can’t believe it,” said the former classmate, who asked not to be identified and has not spoken with Sturgeon in recent years.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s John Miller, Laura Ly, Artemis Moshtaghian, Celina Tebor, Caroll Alvarado, Kristina Sgueglia, Sara Smart and Eric Levenson contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - National

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