Toll grows in mass shooting at Louisville bank

More dead as US endures another mass shooting

A fifth person has died after a 23-year-old bank worker armed with a rifle opened fire at his workplace in Louisville, Kentucky, while livestreaming the attack on social media.

Nine others were injured when the gunman, since named as Connor Sturgeon, opened fire, Louisville police said.

Sturgeon is also dead after Monday’s incident, although it is unclear whether he was killed by police or took his own life. Monday’s attack was the latest in a long series of mass shootings in the United States.

Police responded within minutes to reports of an attacker at 8.30am at the downtown branch of the Old National Bank, about half an hour before it opened to the public. The attacker was broadcasting live video of his attack on social media as he burst in on a staff meeting.

“That’s tragic to know that that incident was out there and captured,” police Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel said.

Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, said in a statement that it had “quickly removed the livestream of this tragic incident”.

Officers fired at the gunman, who was armed with a rifle, Chief Gwinn-Villaroel said.

“We then returned fire and stopped that threat,” he said.

Four victims were initially named from the morning attack – Joshua Barrick, 40; Thomas Elliot, 63; Juliana Farmer, 45; and James Tutt, 64. The fifth, 57-year-old Deana Eckert, died in hospital later.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear fought back tears at an afternoon news briefing. Mr Elliot, a senior vice-president at the bank, was a close friend of Mr Beshear.

“He taught me how to help build my law career, he helped me become governor, he gave me advice on being a good dad,” he said.

“One of the people I talked to most in the world.”

Am emotional Mr Beshear said he also knew others targeted in the attack.

“This is awful. 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,” he said.

“When we talk about praying, I hope people will, for those that we are hoping can make it through the surgeries they are going through. Then we have to do what we have done these last three years after everything: We have to wrap our arms around these families.”

Two police officers were among the nine wounded. They included recent academy graduate Nickolas Wilt, 26, who was shot in the head and remained in critical condition after brain surgery, police said.

All nine victims were treated at the University of Louisville hospital. Two other victims were also critical.

The status of the shooter’s job at the bank was not immediately clear on Monday. Chief Gwinn-Villaroel said he was employed there while CNN, citing confidential law enforcement sources, said he had been told he was about to be sacked.

Sturgeon grew up in southern Indiana, just north of Louisville, according to his mother’s Facebook page. The elder of two boys, he attended Floyd Central High School in Floyds Knobs, Indiana, where he ran track and played basketball for the team his father, Todd, coached. He enrolled at the University of Alabama in 2016 as a business student.

Sturgeon was an intern at the bank for three summers from 2018 to 2020 before becoming a full-time employee in 2022, according to his LinkedIn profile. He had no prior contact with Louisville police, the police chief said.

Before Monday’s shooting, he reportedly wrote a note to his parents and a friend indicating that he was going to open fire in the bank. It is not clear whether that note was on paper or emailed, or whether it was seen before the incident or after.

Other messages to emerge from Sturgeon include chilling posts in chat rooms and on his social media. One one Instagram post, he reportedly wrote: “THEY WON’T LISTEN TO WORDS OR PROTESTS. LET’S SEE IF THEY HEAR THIS.”

One meme posted to a chat group was titled “Monday vibes”, with the caption: “I could burn this whole place down”, while another is a GIF of Star Wars character Kylo Ren saying: “I know what I have to do but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it.”

Sturgeon’s social media accounts have since been removed by authorities.

“This was a targeted act of evil violence” Louisville mayor Craig Greenberg said.

Mr Greenberg said he was also friends with Mr Elliot, who had worked on the mayoral transition campaign.

louisville shooting

New police officer Nickolas Wilt remains critically ill after being shot in the head. Photo: Facebook/Louisville Police

It is not the first time that a gun rampage has been live-streamed by an attacker. The gunman who killed 10 people in a racially motivated shooting at a New York, grocery store in May 2022 had live-streamed his attack, as did the attacker who killed 51 people in the May 2019 at two mosques in New Zealand.

Mass shootings have become commonplace in the US, which has already had 146 in 2023, the most at this point in the year since 2016. Those statistics use the definition of four or more shot or killed, not including the shooter, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive.

In one of the most recent high-profile incidents, three nine-year-old students and three staff members were killed at a school in Nashville, Tennessee, by a former student on March 27.

President Joe Biden responded to news of the shooting by reiterating his wish that Congress pass legislation requiring safe storage of firearms, background checks for all gun sales and elimination of gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability.

“How many more Americans must die before Republicans in Congress will act to protect our communities?” Mr Biden said.

– with AAP

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