Greenwood mall shooter was 'infatuated' with Nazi Germany and mass killings, but motive still unclear
Law enforcement is still unable to determine the motive behind a mass shooting at the Greenwood Park Mall in July.
At a press conference Wednesday, members of the Greenwood Police Department and the FBI said they don’t know why the gunman chose to carry out the incident, but they have learned more about his past and interests.
The shooting took place July 17 in the mall’s food court. Pedro Pineda, 56, of Indianapolis; his wife, Rosa Mirian Rivera de Pineda, 37; and Victor Gomez, 30, of Indianapolis, were killed. The gunman, identified as 20-year-old Jonathan Sapirman, was killed by an armed civilian who was lawfully carrying a handgun.
A 22-year-old woman and a 12-year-old girl were injured.
The armed civilian, 22-year-old Elisjsha Dicken, shot the gunman about 15 seconds after the first rounds were fired.
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Authorities are still trying to unlock the shooter’s cellphone, which he tried to destroy by placing it in a toilet in the mall’s restroom before he carried out the shooting. It may take years for law enforcement to determine the password. The shooter placed his laptop in the oven in his apartment, along with a can of butane. Authorities are unable to access any files because of the damage the laptop sustained.
However, law enforcement carried out interviews with the shooter’s family and friends and looked through his social media profiles and posts. They found that he was “infatuated” with mass killings as well as Nazis. He often posted about these topics and would debate with other users, especially on Reddit.
“The shooter acknowledged several times in these comments that he studied and researched mass killings and serial killers,” Greenwood Police Chief Jim Ison said. “It seemed that he enjoyed debating with others the tactics, motives and details surrounding these incidents.”
Ison said the shooter did not exhibit any anti-Semitic beliefs or intent to commit a mass shooting in his posts. While the three victims of the attack were Hispanic, Ison said it is unclear if they were targeted because of their race.
“There is no clear motive as to why the shooter committed this crime or why he chose the time and place to do it,” Ison said.
Ison said the FBI in Baltimore, Maryland received an anonymous tip in 2019, after a Reddit user expressed concern over another user posting about being interested in mass killings and idealizing the killers. Authorities determined the posts were made from the address where the shooter lived, but at that time they were not able to identify who made the posts.
Shooter’s family, ex-girlfriend give police more information
Ison said authorities spoke with members of the shooter’s family, who said it was unexpected that he was involved. They said he was antisocial, and was interested in guns and drugs.
However, the shooter’s ex-girlfriend told police that she was not surprised he carried out the shooting. The couple broke up 18 months before the shooting took place, and she said there was abuse in the relationship. She said at one point during an argument, he stuck a gun into her mouth.
She said the shooter was unhappy, and fascinated with guns, drugs and Nazi Germany. She said he told her that if he were to kill himself he would “take others with him,” Ison said.
The ex-girlfriend also said the shooter was racist toward African Americans and Hispanics. However, authorities can’t link that to a motive.
The shooter’s past
The shooter was born in Columbus, Ohio and lived with both his parents until they separated when he was 5 years old. His father moved to New York, and the shooter and his brother moved to Florida with their mother.
Ison said reports from Child Protective Services indicated that the shooter experienced homelessness as a child. Ison added that multiple CPS reports pointed to abuse and neglect. He encountered the juvenile justice system for various offenses including truancy, bringing a knife to school and getting into a fight. He was also in and out of foster care.
In 2018, the shooter’s older brother was granted custody. When the shooter was 17, he moved in with his brother at the Polo Run Apartments in Greenwood, where he lived until the shooting took place.
About a month before the shooting, the shooter’s brother removed his name from the apartment’s lease. The shooter quit his job in May 2022, and his father stopped supporting him financially. He received an eviction notice a few days prior to the shooting for failing to pay rent.
Contact WFYI criminal justice reporter Katrina Pross at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @katrina_pross.
Pross is a Corps Member of Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project.
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