By Julia Harte and Sharon Bernstein
(Reuters) – The mother of the 25-year-old bank employee who killed five people and wounded nine others in a shooting rampage at his Kentucky workplace on Monday had frantically called 911 to report her son’s intention, emergency calls released on Wednesday showed.
The calls, one of which came from an employee who witnessed the attack while on a video conference meeting, were shared by the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department hours before hundreds of residents gathered to mourn at a vigil at the city’s Muhammad Ali Center.
Police identified the shooter in Louisville as Connor Sturgeon, who was employed at the Old National Bank’s downtown branch at the time of the shooting. He was killed by police on Monday.
Monday morning, amid a flurry of calls coming in from panicked bank employees as the shooting unfolded, a woman who identified herself as the suspect’s mother called in to the city’s emergency line.
Between shaky breaths, she told the operator she had heard from her son’s roommate that he had left a note indicating he had a gun and was heading toward the bank.
“He’s never hurt anyone, he’s a really good kid,” the woman, whose name was omitted from the recording, said. “We don’t even own guns, I don’t know where he would have gotten a gun.”
Monday’s shooting brought the number of people killed by gun violence in Louisville to 40 in 2023 so far, Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg said in his remarks at the vigil.
“We are all in pain right now,” Greenberg said at the vigil. “Whether you knew some of these wonderful people who were killed on Monday or not we come together this evening to acknowledge that every violent death is tragic.”
There have been 146 mass shootings in the United States so far in 2023, the most at this point in the year since 2016, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The nonprofit group defines a mass shooting as four or more shot or killed, not including the shooter.
Barely two weeks before the Louisville massacre, a former student at a private Christian school in Nashville shot and killed three 9-year-old students and three staff members. While mass shootings have become commonplace in the U.S., the shooting stunned the Tennessee city and the country.
The family of the gunman, in a statement released on Wednesday, said he had suffered from mental health issues that they had been “actively addressing” before his rampage.
In the statement, released to a Louisville television station, the family said there were “never any warning signs or indications he was capable” of carrying out a mass shooting.
The station, Fox-affiliated WDRB, posted the statement on its website after receiving it from an attorney for the family on Tuesday evening. Reuters could not independently verify the statement, and the station did not provide the lawyer’s name.
Greenberg and other speakers at Wednesday’s vigil called for action from the deeply divided U.S. government to end the country’s crisis of gun violence, noting mass shootings as well as individual acts of violence and firearm accidents.
But first, the community needed to acknowledge its grief and agony.
“This is a time to ask each other, ‘How are you doing? What do you need?” Greenberg said.
Dr. Muhammad Babar, a physician at the University of Louisville hospital that treated victims including wounded police officer Nickolas Wilt, begged listeners and politicians to come together to address the problem of gun violence.
“It does not matter whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, whether you live in urban spaces or rural communities, whether you own a gun or not,” he shouted in a voice choked with emotion. “Please do something.”
(Reporting by Julia Harte and Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Leslie Adler)