Louisville shooter's parents recount mental health struggle
NEW YORK -- A man who opened fire at a Louisville bank, killing five co-workers, had confronted mental health problems over the last year but the situation appeared to be managed until just days before the shooting, his mother said.
In an interview with NBC’s “Today” show that aired Thursday, Lisa Sturgeon said her 25-year-old son, Connor, called her April 4, six days before the shooting at the Old National Bank in the city’s downtown. He said a panic attack forced him to leave work, and he thought he should take time off for a while.
Lisa and Todd Sturgeon said their son’s mental Health struggle began a year earlier with panic attacks, anxiety and a suicide attempt, but he was seeing a psychiatrist and taking medication, TODAY reported.
Lisa Sturgeon said they had lunch the day after he called, and she set up an psychiatrist appointment and joined him there.
“We thought he was coming out of the crisis,” Lisa Sturgeon said.
When the Sturgeons saw their son for the last time at a family gathering on Easter Sunday, a day before the attack, he was helping people find the last eggs in the egg hunt and joking, Todd Sturgeon said.
The next morning, Lisa Sturgeon said her son’s roommate called saying Connor told him by phone: “I’m going to go in and shoot up Old National.” She called 911 but her son was already at the bank.
Police said Connor Sturgeon bought the AR-15 assault-style rifle used in the attack at a local dealership on April 4, the same day that Lisa Sturgeon said he told her about the panic attack. He killed five coworkers while livestreaming before police fatally shot him.
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.
Eight others were injured, including a police officer who was shot in the head.
The Sturgeons expressed their sorrow.
“We are so sorry. We are heartbroken,” she said. “We wish we could undo it, but we know we can’t.”
The Sturgeons said their son shouldn’t have been able to buy the rifle because of his mental state. They have been told that their son, who was seeing two mental Health professionals, was able to walk into the store and walk out with the weapon and ammunition in 40 minutes, Todd Sturgeon said.
“If there had been a delay or something of that nature, that would have been helpful," Lisa Sturgeon said.
Todd Sturgeon acknowledged that the issue is complicated, balancing protecting against the threat while being conscious of individual rights and liberties.
"We have really smart people in this country and there’s no reason why we can’t find a solution to this problem,” he said.
While the families of four of the victims declined to comment, Barrick's family said in a statement to TODAY that the shooting “didn't have to happen.”
“The fact that anyone can walk in and buy a semiautomatic weapon, its only purpose being to kill many in seconds, is simply wrong. Enough is enough. Inaction is not an option,” the statement read. “We deserve to be safe in our communities — whether that be at the bank, the grocery store, our schools, or anywhere else.”
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