ELKHART, Ind. (AP) — A man who went on a shooting rampage inside a northern Indiana grocery store, killing an employee and a shopper, didn’t appear to have a specific target but appeared intent on committing suicide, a prosecutor said Thursday.
Photos | Elkhart grocery store shooting
Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill Jr. said a state police investigation found no evidence Shawn Bair knew either store employee Krystle Dikes or shopper Rachelle Godfread when he went on the shooting spree Jan. 15 inside a Martin’s Super Market in Elkhart.
“This appears to be a case where these unfortunate folks were at the wrong place at the wrong time and they were the victims of an individual who had made the determination he was going to take his own life and became homicidal in the process,” Hill said.
State police also weren’t able to determine why Bair chose that grocery store or his motivation for the shootings.
“A lot of the why died that night. We can’t really go into what is in the mind of someone who commits such a heinous act,” Hill said.
The state police investigation found Bair had “some suicidal tendencies and some apparent mental issues or deficiencies over a period of time,” Hill said. A judge had ordered Bair to receive treatment at Oaklawn Psychiatric Center in 2010 when he pleaded guilty to theft.
The coroner was not able to determine whether Bair died from a gunshot to his heart by police or a self-inflicted head wound because they occurred nearly simultaneously, Hill said.
Hill said Elkhart police Cpl. Jason Tripp and Cpl. Cody Skipper were justified in using deadly force because it was an active shooter situation and because Bair didn’t comply when they ordered him to drop his gun, instead raising it toward them.
“As he raised his gun, the officers opened fire,” Hill said.
Hill said he won’t convene a grand jury to review the shooting, saying the officers “acted reasonably in their conduct.” The police department said Tripp and Skipper remain on paid administrative leave while an internal investigation is being completed.
State police are still investigating whom Bair talked to on his cellphone shortly before the shootings, saying that person could provide information about his state of mind.
“But it does appear that he did have some fixations with mass murder situations and some antisocial behavior,” Hill said.
Hill said Bair did have a suicide note on him, which contained short statements about some people he knew, saying one statement was about his mother and the support she gave him and others used vulgar terms for those he thought were against him.
He also texted his mother before the shootings asking if she was going to be at the store.
Hill said Bair got the .40-caliber handgun from a friend in what appears to be a legal transaction.
Bair said a man who called 911 and a store employee who ran when Bair ordered her to stop and then called out warnings about the gunman to those inside the store were unsung heroes.
“Those things have as much with saving lives as anything else,” he said. “We were very fortunate that this wasn’t a worse situation than it was. As bad as it was, it could have been a great deal worse.”
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