(CNN) — Dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, Elisjsha Dicken was shopping with her girlfriend when a gunman opened fire in a food court at a Greenwood, Indiana, shopping center on Sunday night, killing three people and wounding two others. .

While the attacker, 20-year-old Douglas Sapirman, fired 24 shots from an AR-15-style rifle, Dicken did not hesitate to use the Glock pistol he legally carried. Sapirman was “neutralized” within two minutes, police said.

“Many more people would have died last night were it not for an armed and responsible citizen who acted very quickly in the first two minutes of the shooting,” Greenwood Police Chief James Ison said at a news conference Monday.

The grandmother of Shay Goldman, Dicken’s 19-year-old girlfriend, says her granddaughter’s life was one of those saved thanks to the young man’s actions, CNN affiliate WTHR reported..

“‘Eli pushed me out of the way and told me to get down and stay on the ground,'” Goldman told his grandmother by phone, according to WTHR.

“Everyone should be proud of him for what he has done, because if not, there would have been so much more,” said the grandmother, whom the member did not identify.

When Sapirman began firing from a restroom area into the mall’s food court, Dicken returned fire “from a fair distance with a firearm. He was very proficient at it, very tactical,” Ison said. As he approached the shooter, Dicken motioned for people to get out behind him, the chief said.

“He’s a superhero,” Alison Dick, whose 12-year-old daughter was injured, said in a Facebook post.

To the best of investigators’ knowledge, Dicken “has no police or military training,” Ison said. According to WTHR, Dicken’s grandfather taught him how to shoot.

A rare occurrence

What makes Dicken’s heroism even more remarkable is the fact that instances of an armed bystander attacking an active assailant are rare, according to data from the University’s Law Enforcement Advanced Rapid Response Training. Texas State.

There were at least 434 active shooting attacks in the United States between 2000 and 2021, according to ALERRT data. Active shooting attacks were defined as those in which one or more attackers killed or attempted to kill multiple unrelated people in a populated area.

Of those 434 active shooting cases, an armed bystander shot the attacker in 22 of the incidents. In 10 of them, the “good guy” was an off-duty security guard or police officer, according to ALERRT data.

The presence of armed individuals on the scene who are not members of law enforcement can create confusion and pose serious risks, according to an analysis of data published by The New York Times. An armed bystander who shot and killed an attacker in 2021 in Arvada, Colorado, for example, was himself shot dead by police who mistook him for the assailant, The New York Times reported.

Few other details have emerged about Dicken, and a lawyer for the young man has asked the public to respect the privacy of Dicken and his family.

“Because we want to respect the ongoing criminal investigation by the Greenwood Police Department and take time to honor the three innocent lives lost, we will not make any substantive comment on the events of this Sunday until the authorities’ investigation is closed.” attorney Guy A. Relford said in a statement to CNN.

After the shooting, Dicken “came up to mall security and told them he was the one who had the shooter neutralized,” and waited for police to arrive, Ison said.

The police then took Dicken to the police station, where detectives interviewed him. His statements were consistent with video from the scene, the chief said.

“He’s a young man who is processing a lot,” Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said. “I ask that you give him space and time to process what has happened.”

“This young man, the Good Samaritan from Greenwood, acted in seconds, stopping the assailant and saving countless lives,” Myers said. “Our city, our community and our state are grateful for his heroism in this situation.”

CNN’s Amir Vera, Artemis Mostaghian, Holly Yan and Jacqueline Rose contributed to this report.

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