Skip to Content

‘I witnessed people being murdered.’ How the Louisville bank shooting unfolded

<i>LMPD</i><br/>Officer Cory
Officer Cory "CJ" Galloway shot and killed the gunman from the steps in front of the bank

By Ray Sanchez, CNN

About half an hour before opening for business, employees at the Old National Bank branch near the Ohio River in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, gathered for a morning board meeting.

There was Thomas Elliott, the bank’s 63-year-old senior vice president; Deana Eckert, a 57-year-old executive administrative assistant; and Juliana Farmer, 45, who moved to Louisville two weeks ago to take a job as a loan officer and help her daughter, a single mom with four children.

There was Joshua Barrick, 40, a senior vice president of commercial real estate banking. And James Tutt, a 64-year-old commercial real estate market executive and a big-time booster of the revitalization of the old urban neighborhood where they worked.

Within a minute, the five bank employees would become casualties of a distinctly American phenomenon — the mass shooting.

The Monday morning rampage by a member of their own work family was particularly personal for Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg: He not only lost a close friend in Elliott but had himself survived a workplace shooting last year at his campaign headquarters.

“It is painful,” Greenberg said, “for all of the families I know.”

The chilling soundtrack of a gun scourge

It is a pain that extends far beyond the city bordering Indiana — best known for hosting the renowned Kentucky Derby and manufacturing the iconic Louisville Slugger bat that’s part of the history of the national pastime.

Another familiar part of Americana plays out, this time in one of the oldest cities west of the Appalachian Mountains. An attacker unleashes his fury on unsuspecting victims. Law enforcement takes down the shooter. The families of the slain learn loved ones will not be coming home. Then authorities show graphic police body-camera video and release frantic 911 calls of witnesses whose plaintive cries for help have become a chilling soundtrack of the daily scourge of gun violence across America.

2023 is just 106 days old. And at least 162 mass shootings have been already reported in the US, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive, which, like CNN, defines a mass shooting as one in which at least four people are shot, excluding the shooter.

The mother of the gunman, 25-year-old Old National Bank employee Connor Sturgeon, was among the 911 callers on Monday.

Her son, she told the dispatcher, was heading to the Old National Bank branch on East Main Street. He had a gun and apparently left a note found by a roommate, she said.

“I’m so sorry. I’m getting details secondhand. I’m learning about it now. Oh my Lord,” Sturgeon’s mother said in a 911 call released by police Wednesday.

“I need your help. He’s never hurt anyone. He’s a really good kid,” the mother insisted.

“We don’t even own guns. I don’t know where he would have gotten a gun.”

The call was made at 8:41 a.m. Monday.

“He’s never hurt anyone,” the mother said. “Please don’t punish him.”

It was too late. The first 911 call about the bank shooting had come in three minutes earlier. The gunman was already inside.

“You’ve had calls from other people? So he’s already there?”

“Yes,” the dispatcher said.

Should she go to the bank, the mother asked. Stay away, the dispatcher advised.

Sturgeon was killed by police shortly after he fatally shot the five bank employees and then fired at police, wounding Officer Nickolas Wilt. The 26-year-old rookie cop was shot in the head 10 days after graduating from the police academy, leaving him in critical condition. Seven others were injured.

“I just swore him in and his family was there to witness his journey to become a police officer,” Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel, the interim police chief, said of Wilt.

Horror livestreamed on Instragram

As is the case in many mass shootings, Sturgeon legally purchased his AR-15-style rifle before the attack, police said. The semiautomatic rifle is the weapon of choice for many US mass shooters and the most popular sporting rifle in the country.

The motive for the rampage is unclear.

The shooting was livestreamed on Instagram, compounding the horror.

The gunman fired the weapon inside the bank for about a minute and then appeared to wait a minute and a half before police arrived, according to a city official.

The livestream opened with the clearly visible AR-15-style weapon.

“Good morning,” a bank worker said to the gunman.

“You need to get out of here,” the shooter told the woman on the livestream, which was eventually taken down by Instagram’s parent company Meta.

The gunman then tried to shoot her in the back but the safety appeared to be on and the weapon needed to be loaded, the official said.

Once the shooter loaded the weapon properly and took the safety off, he shot the worker, the official said. She was hit in the back of the shoulder and survived.

‘I know who it is. He works with us.’

The first 911 call came from a woman who worked at a different branch of Old National Bank. She witnessed the shooting on video.

“How do you know you have an active shooter on site?” the dispatcher asked.

“I just watched it. I just watched it on a Teams meeting. We were having a board meeting,” she said. “I saw somebody on the floor. We heard multiple shots and people started saying, ‘Oh my God,’ and then he came into the board room.”

The caller was in distress. She yelled and cried as she described what she saw.

Rebecca Buchheit-Sims, a manager with Old National Bank, later told CNN she virtually witnessed the shooting on her computer during the Microsoft Teams meeting.

“I witnessed people being murdered,” she said. “I don’t know how else to say that.”

Another 911 caller whispered. She said she worked at the bank. She was hiding in a closet. Gunshots echo in the background.

“I know who it is,” she said. “He works with us.”

Someone else called 911. They were on the fourth floor of the downtown building, hiding under a desk.

“We are trying to get the status of what’s going on,” the caller said.

Another caller to police demanded, “Get here now! We need somebody now!”

Caleb Goodlett got a call from his wife about 8:30 a.m. She works at Old National Bank, he told CNN affiiliate WLKY. She had locked herself in a bank vault and called him using a phone in there.

Goodlett also dialed 911. He works downtown and headed to the bank as the first officers were arriving.

‘Suspect down. Get the officer!’

On the morning of his 10th day on the job, Wilt and his training officer, Cory “CJ” Galloway, drove to the riverside Preston Pointe building — which houses the bank on the first floor.

It was 8:41 a.m. when their squad car pulled up outside Old National Bank — on the other side of the street from Louisville Slugger Field, home of the minor-league Louisville Bats. The officers had been dispatched three minutes earlier to a report of shots fired.

Gunshots exploded inside the building.

“Back up, back up, back up,” one officer shouted.

The squad car backed up slightly, according to their body camera video, which was released Tuesday. Some parts of the footage were blurred out.

Galloway got a rifle from the trunk.

“Cover for me,” he told his partner.

The gunman waited in the bank lobby. Officers could not see through the building’s dark glass panes.

In a photo taken from surveillance video, the shooter — wearing a blue shirt, jeans and sneakers — is holding a rifle. The floor is strewn with broken glass.

Gunshots thundered in the background, according to the video. Wilt was shot in the head as he ran toward the shots, police said. Wilt was seen following Galloway up the outside steps to the bank. He held his service pistol with two hands. The video cut off before he was hit.

Galloway, who was also shot, is seen taking fire. He fell, got back up and retreated to a safe position down the steps behind a planter. Officers talk about how they can’t see the gunman and that he’s shooting through the bank windows.

“The shooter has an angle on that officer. We need to get up there. I don’t know where he’s at. The glass is blocking him,” Galloway said.

Sirens wailed in the background.

Galloway took cover and waited for backup. At times, he moved from one side of the concrete planter to another, aiming his rifle at the elevated lobby and trying to get a shot.

“He’s shooting straight through these windows right towards the officer,” said Galloway as reinforcements arrived.

At 8:44 a.m. Galloway unleashed a hail of bullets into the lobby. The broken windows, shot out by the gunman, enabled him to pinpoint the shooter.

“I think he’s down!” Galloway shouted. “Suspect down. Get the officer!”

Galloway stepped slowly into the building, through the shattered lobby windows. He aimed his rifle as broken glass crunched under his feet. Galloway then approached the shooter, who was down on the glass-strewn floor next to his rifle. It was 8:45 a.m. Monday — four minutes after the officer responded to another mass shooting in America.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Aya Elamroussi, Eric Levenson, Adrienne Broaddus, Kristina Sgueglia, Celina Tebor, Curt Devine, Mark Morales, Linh Tran, Andy Rose, Holmes Lybrand, Aileen Graef, Sara Smart, Eric Bradner, Laura Ly, Holly Yan, Alisha Ebrahimji, Sydney Kashiwagi, and Ray Sanchez contributed to this report. It was written by Sanchez in New York.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - National

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content