I-Team 8

Girlfriend of Greenwood mall hero used jacket as tourniquet to help shooting victim

COLUMBUS, Ind. (WISH) — Shay Golden, the girlfriend of the armed citizen who stopped the Greenwood Park Mall shooter, is telling her story of what happened inside the mall on July 17.

Golden and her boyfriend, Eli Dicken, had not planned on being in the mall that night. A last-minute decision to stop and eat changed their lives forever. 

Golden is 19 years old and has amazing poise and maturity about her. She is outgoing and friendly, but a little guarded right now.

“I hope nobody has to experience what I experienced. It was very traumatic and very raw, and it is not something that anybody deserves to ever go through in life,” Golden said. 

She was one of the first people inside of the mall to call 911. I-Team 8 obtained copies of those recordings from the Greenwood Police Department and played it for her to verify the caller was her. It was the first time she had heard her entire call and was visibly moved by the call. Golden met with I-Team 8 at a park in Columbus to talk.

“I feel like we were meant to be there. I will never know why, none of us will ever know why, but were meant to be there, for whatever reason it was,” Golden said.

The two had been focused on one another as they ate, but something drew their attention toward the other side of the room just as the shooter emerged from the bathroom. 

“The first thing I saw was the gunman coming out the bathroom and that second I saw him come out of the bathroom, I froze. It was like I went numb. I wasn’t able to … nothing came out of me as much as I was trying to say, ‘You know, we are in danger’ or something like that I wasn’t able to…. No words came out of my mouth. That’s when the gunshots started and that’s when I knew we were in trouble,” Golden said. “But I remember him being over by the restroom area and I remember kind of looking over my shoulder a little bit and I remember hearing the first gunshot go off and I remember seeing everyone take off running for their lives. I remember seeing tables and chairs flying across the food court, and that’s when I knew we were in a very dangerous situation.”

Then she heard shots coming from right next to her as Eli, her boyfriend, started shooting back.  

I-Team 8 asked her what she thought when Eli started shooting.

“I was scared. I was terrified but I remember just telling myself to remain calm it will be over soon, because within seconds of everything happening … Like that, it felt like eternity in that situation. It felt like it was never going to end. I just remember telling myself, ‘It is OK, Shay. You will be OK. You are going to get through this. You are going to make it out alive.’ I remember telling myself over and over again I had to remain calm and I had to listen to what Eli told me to do, essentially, as well, in order to stay alive as well,” Golden said. 

Within 15 seconds the shooting stopped, the chaos, confusion was well underway. A 22-year-old woman sitting near Golden and her boyfriend had been struck by one of the suspects bullets. Shay is a nursing student who went to work.

“I got down on the ground. I was trying to figure out where she had been shot at and that is when I see it was her leg and was trying to figure out what to use. I was like, ‘Shay, your jacket’ and that was when I took my jacket off and wrapped it around her leg and made it a makeshift tourniquet. I just kept talking to that sweet girl. I told her, ‘You know, everything was going to be OK,’ and ‘They were on their way’ and that she would be OK,” Golden said. 

It would be more than 24 hours before she knew for certain that the girl she helped was in fact OK.

“I knew from the press conference and from news articles and everything that she was stabilized when she got to the hospital. That made my heart very full and happy,” Golden said.

I-Team 8 asked if Golden would like to the 22-year-old woman. “I would love to meet her, I would love to give her a hug,” Golden said.  

Once police arrived, there was a question of who was doing the shooting. Eli was handcuffed and questioned by police. 

“When I saw him in handcuffs it made me break down, made me start crying, you know? I was scared. I didn’t know where he was going, didn’t know what was going to happen, you know? That was the person I came into the mall with and that’s who I was expecting to leave with, not expecting that Sunday would be a nightmare for everybody. So when I saw him in handcuffs, it broke my heart. I didn’t want them to take him, I didn’t want to be away from him,” Golden said. 

Golden’s brother picked her up from the mall. When she got home, she hugged her mom like she had never done before. Sleep that night escaped her, and she wouldn’t see Eli until the next day.  

“When I reunited with Eli, it felt like home. I felt safe. Me and him just hugged each other. We just said to each other (that) we were glad to be alive and I told him, ‘Thank you for saving my life and everyone else in there.’ Things could have been a lot different and who knows what the outcome would have been if we weren’t there,” Golden said.