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Greenwood Park Mall shooter had ‘no clear motive’; laptop and cellphone destroyed

(Photo Provided/Greenwood Police Department)

GREENWOOD, Ind. (WISH) — The Greenwood Park Mall shooter, Jonathan Sapirman, had a laptop and cellphone. Greenwood Police and the FBI were hoping the motive behind the shooting would be revealed on one of those devices. 

“There is no clear motive as to why the shooter committed this crime, or why he choose the time and place to do it. He did not communicate his intentions to anyone nor did he leave a manifesto citing his motivation,” Greenwood Chief of Police James Ison said.

Police released a photo of Sapirman walking into the Greenwood Park Mall just before 5 p.m. on July 17, the day of the shooting.

His head is down and his eyes are on his phone. A second photo shows him with his eyes still down, wearing a backpack loaded with guns.  

The reason Sapirman choose the Greenwood Park Mall to carry out the shooting, and this particular date, is a question that may never be answered.

Before walking a mile to the mall from his apartment, Sapirman put his laptop in an oven. 

“He had also placed a butane tank inside the oven. The butane tank exploded and the laptop was so badly damaged that we were unable to access the files,” Ison said.

 Prior to the shooting, Sapirman went to a restroom where he spent an hour searching the social media pages of an ex-girlfriend.

Just before 6 p.m. he threw his cellphone in a toilet.

The FBI dried the phone out and got it to power up, but they need the six digit password to access the contents.

The FBI has a special software designed to unlock phone, but police say there are one million possible passwords.

“The process is still ongoing and could take years to unlock,” Ison said.

With search warrants, investigators have looked through all of his known digital footprint.

Police say that between 2017 and 2022, Sapirman left more than 700 comments on Reddit.

He was well versed in World War II history with a specific interest in Nazi, Germany. Many of his online comments were about mass killings.  

“We were unable to locate any comments made by the shooter on these subreddit’s that would indicate we was planning to carry out such an attack. But, on the contrary, almost every post was more of a discussion, or debate, concerning other high profile mass killings around the country. The shooter acknowledged several that he studied and researched mass killings and serial killers,” Ison said.

Investigators found a common theme in these posts, Sapirman enjoyed discussing the tactics, motives, and details of other mass shootings.

One of his posts caught the attention of a fellow Reddit user who reported his user’s name to the FBI office in Baltimore. Investigators were able to track the Wi-Fi system Sapirman was using to his apartment complex in Greenwood. The investigation ended there, because he had not made any threats. 

Police interviewed his ex-girlfriend who described him as a loner, abusive, and angry. She told police he stuck a gun in her month during an argument. She also told police he was racist toward African-Americans and Hispanics based on bad experiences he had with people of those races.

“She also reported that he once told her, ‘this world is not made for me and I will not live past twenty years old,’ he also told her that if he ever killed himself he would take others with him,” Ison said.

The shooter has no criminal record as an adult however, as a juvenile he was arrested for fighting in school and he also brought a knife to school.

She never reported the abuse or concerns to police. Police have not closed the book on this investigation, but they say this is most likely the final chapter. 

The Greenwood Park Mall shooter was killed by Elisjsha Dicken. Police will not pursue any charges against Dicken for his action that day.  

Two weeks after the mall shooting, I-team 8 talked to his girlfriend, Shay Golden.

She and Elisjsha had stopped at the mall to eat, they had just sat down when the shooting started.

Today, the chief of police called Dicken a hero. Dicken has never spoken publicly about what happened inside the mall. Today, his lawyer, Guy Relford, spoke on his behalf. 

“When the circumstances unfolded, as they did, his first thought was simply, ‘I need to protect people, I need to stop this person from killing,’ and as the Chief has reported, within 15 seconds, he engaged the shooter and was able to neutralize that threat. We use the term ‘cool under fire.’ He was literally ‘cool under fire’ and so that is why the Chief calls him a hero,” Relford said.

The handgun Dicken used to stop the shooter has been in police custody. I-team 8 is told it will be returned to him. 

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