LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Frantic calls from witnesses reporting a mass shooting at a Louisville bank were released Wednesday by police — including from a woman who was on a virtual meeting and saw the shooter, as well as one from the man’s mother, who told a 911 operator that her son “currently has a gun and is heading toward” the bank.
“I need your help. He’s never hurt anyone, he’s a good kid,” said the woman, who identified herself as the gunman’s mother. It turned out that at the time of her call, the gunman was already at the bank. The emergency dispatcher informed the woman that other calls were coming in about the shooting.
None of the callers are identified by name and other information is edited out of the calls, but the first call that came in was from a woman who was on a video call inside the bank. She screams and cries throughout the four-minute call and says there is an active shooter at the downtown branch of the bank.
“I just watched it on a Teams meeting,” she says. “We were having a board meeting. With our commercial (lending) team.”
“We heard multiple shots and everybody started saying, ’Oh my God and then he came into the board room.”
Bank employee Connor Sturgeon, 25, used an AR-15 assault-style rifle in the attack Monday at Old National Bank, where he killed five coworkers while livestreaming before police fatally shot him. Eight others were injured, including a police officer who was shot in the head and remains hospitalized in critical condition.
After the first call, others began streaming in. One of the callers says she’s calling from within the building as numerous gunshots are heard in the background.
“I’m in a closet hiding,” the caller says. She says people have been shot and gives a description of the shooting, saying she knows the shooter. “He works with us.”
“How long will it be before they get here?” she whispers and the dispatcher tells her that authorities are on the way and advises her to keep quiet.
Asked what kind of injuries there were, the caller replies: “I don’t know. I just saw a lot of blood.”
Another call came from a man inside the bank, who told dispatchers the address and said, “We have an active shooting in our building. White male. He’s an employee of Old National Bank. Get here now. We need somebody now.”
Another call came from a motorist driving down Main Street, who reported seeing a man about five minutes prior with an assault rifle and a bulletproof vest walking around. The caller asks if anyone else has reported the man.
The dispatcher then describes what others reported the suspect was wearing and the caller confirms it.
The woman identifying herself as Sturgeon’s mother asks during the call if she can go to the bank but is told by the dispatcher that she should not because “there’s a situation going on down there” and “it’s dangerous.”
“You’ve had calls from other people, so he’s already there?” the mother asks with shock in her voice.
Wednesday’s release included a half-hour of emergency responder radio traffic.
The release came hours before hundreds of people gathered at the Muhammad Ali Center in downtown Louisville Wednesday evening to remember the victims and allow the public to offer prayers for the injured. The center has an outdoor auditorium just a mile from the site of Monday’s shooting. Louisville mayor Craig Greenberg was among the speakers.
The mood at the vigil was somber, but there were cheers for the officers who responded to Monday’s shooting. Many attendees were dressed in business clothes, and some had walked to the memorial after their workday in downtown Louisville.
On Tuesday, police released body camera video that showed the chaotic moments when officers arrived at the bank as the shooter, whom they couldn’t see, rained bullets down on them.
Louisville Metro Police Department Deputy Chief Paul Humphrey walked reporters through edited footage and still photos at a news conference and praised the responding officers for their heroism.
Sturgeon’s parents said in a statement that their son had mental health challenges that were being addressed, but “there were never any warning signs or indications he was capable of this shocking act.”
They said they are mourning for the victims and the loss of their son, and working with police to understand what happened.
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 (260 kilometers) south of Louisville.
The five bank employees killed in the shooting were Joshua Barrick, 40, a senior vice president; Deana Eckert, 57, an executive administrative officer; Tommy Elliott, 63, also a senior vice president; Juliana Farmer, 45, a loan analyst; and Jim Tutt Jr., 64, a commercial real estate market executive.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has said Elliott was one of his closest friends.
“I’ll admit that while I am not angry, I am empty. And I’m sad,” Beshear said at the vigil, his voice breaking. “And I just keep thinking that maybe we’ll wake up. What I know is, I just wish I’d taken an extra moment, made an extra call, tell him how much I care about him. And I know we are all feeling the same. But I also know they hear us now. And that they feel our love.”
Later, speaker Whitney Austin said she was shot 12 times in a September 2018 mass shooting at a Cincinnati bank and that “Monday morning was heartbreakingly familiar to me.”
Just as she was wrapped in love by her community since then, Austin asked those at the vigil to do the same for the families involved in Monday’s shooting.
“Please don’t forget about them next week. Don’t forget about them next month. And don’t forget about them next year,” Austin said. “They are going to need your support for the rest of their lives.”
Raby reported from Charleston, W.Va.