LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP/WJW) — A shooter at a bank in downtown Louisville killed at least five people — including two friends of the governor — and wounded more Monday, police said.
The suspect, who was reportedly an employee at Old National Bank, had live streamed the shooting before he died.
Police Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel identified the shooter as 25-year-old Connor Sturgeon during a press conference Monday afternoon. He reportedly used a rifle in the shooting.
“That’s tragic to know that that incident was out there and captured,” she said.
Meta, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram, said in a statement that it had “quickly removed the livestream of this tragic incident this morning.”
Police also identified the five victims, who ranged in age from 40 to 64.
“To my officers who took it upon themselves and not wait to assess everything but just went in to to stop the threat so that more lives would not be lost. Thank you. Thank you for showing up even when sometimes you don’t feel appreciated,” Gwinn-Villaroel said. “If we don’t do it, who will?”
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.
“This should not continue to happen,” Gwinn-Villaroel said. “Evil should not try to prevail and take over our city and we let it happen.”
Police in Louisville arrived as gunshots were still being fired inside Old National Bank and exchanged fire with the shooter, Louisville Metro Police Department Deputy Chief Paul Humphrey said at a morning news conference. It wasn’t clear whether the shooter killed himself or was shot by officers.
“Please pray for all of the families impacted and for the city of Louisville,” Beshear said.
The FBI said its agents were also responding to the shooting.
The shooting happened in a building on East Main Street that houses the Old National Bank not far from the Louisville Slugger Field and Waterfront Park.
Nine people, including two police officers, were treated for injuries from the shooting, University of Louisville Hospital spokeswoman Heather Fountaine said in an email. At least three patients had been discharged.
One of the wounded, identified as 57-year-old Deana Eckert, later died, police said Monday night.
One of the officers, 26-year-old Nickolas Wilt, graduated from the police academy on March 31. He was in critical condition after being shot in the head and having surgery, the police chief said. At least three patients had been discharged.
An emotional Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said he lost friends in the shooting in the building on East Main Street not far from the Louisville Slugger Field and Waterfront Park.
“This is awful,” he said. “I have a very close friend who didn’t make it today. And I have another close friend who didn’t, either. And one who’s at the hospital that I hope is going to make it through.”
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.
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 on the 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.
Humphrey, the deputy chief, said the actions of responding police officers undoubtedly saved lives.
“This is a tragic event,” he said. “But it was it was the heroic response of officers that made sure that no more people were more seriously injured than what happened.”
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.
President Joe Biden released a statement Monday afternoon.
“Once again, our nation is in mourning after a senseless act of gun violence. Jill and I are praying for those killed and injured in the tragic shooting in Louisville, and for the survivors who will carry grief and trauma for the rest of their lives. We are grateful to the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department officers who quickly and courageously stepped into the line of fire to save others.
How many more Americans must die before Republicans in Congress will act to protect our communities? It’s long past time that we require safe storage of firearms. Require background checks for all gun sales. Eliminate gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability. We can and must do these things now.
A strong majority of Americans want lawmakers to act on commonsense gun safety reforms. Instead, from Florida to North Carolina to the U.S. House of Representatives, we’ve watched Republican officials double down on dangerous bills that make our schools, places of worship, and communities less safe. It’s unconscionable, it’s reckless, and too many Americans are paying with their lives.”