FBI provides update on Greenwood mall shooting investigation

GREENWOOD — Data from the Greenwood Park Mall gunman’s computer cannot be recovered, but all hope of determining a motive is not lost.

Despite the best efforts of FBI agents, they were unable to recover data from the laptop found in the gunman’s oven, Herb Stapleton, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis Field Office, said during a media event Thursday.

In 15 seconds, police say the gunman, Jonathan Douglas Sapirman, 20, of Greenwood, shot three people and injured two others before he was fatally shot by Elisjsha Dicken, 22, of Seymour, who police are calling a good Samaritan, during the July 17 shooting. Victor Gomez, 30, and husband and wife Pedro Pineda, 56, and Rosa Mirian Rivera de Pineda, 37, all of Indianapolis, were killed in the shooting.

Police say the gunman placed his laptop in the oven at his apartment with a can of butane before departing for the mall. The heat from the oven damaged the laptop to the point that forensic analysts are unable to recover anything at this time, Stapleton said.

The FBI is still working to analyze the cell phone that police say Sapirman dropped in the toilet in the mall bathroom before opening fire in the food court that day. Stapleton didn’t have a timeline for the analysis but he was hopeful that data can be extracted.

“It’s important to make sure we do this thoroughly,” Stapleton said.

The process of retrieving evidence in situations like this generally begins with investigators seizing devices. From there they process digital media on site where they can, and if they are not able to then they send it to another agency to process it, Stapleton said.

There are many agencies in Indiana that are capable of doing this, but the FBI was ultimately determined to be the best at doing this for the mall shooting investigation. Because of this, the gunman’s devices were sent to the FBI’s facility in Virginia, which had many tools available, he said.

The FBI and the Greenwood Police Department are also working on an analysis of the gunman’s social media and online presence to potentially uncover a motive for the shooting. This work is ongoing, Stapleton said.

He also applauded Greenwood police for their efforts in investigating the gunman’s motive. However, there is a chance law enforcement may never know why the gunman committed the shooting.

“We may never know what was in the mind of the shooter at the time,” Stapleton said.

Additionally, federal agents are continuing to interview witnesses and people who knew the gunman to try to get a better idea of what led to the shooting. An FBI special agent has also been assigned to work with the lead Greenwood detective as the investigation continues, he said.

Police have not found any evidence that Sapirman was connected to the Greenwood Park Mall, and do not believe he knew the victims. There is also no evidence at this time that the shooting was racially motivated, Greenwood police previously said. However, the people who were killed were Hispanic.

Law enforcement has also not found any evidence of a note or message left behind on the shooter’s cell phone, police said.

In the aftermath of the shooting, screenshots began popping up online of a post made the same day by a person on 4chan, an imageboard website that allows users to post anonymously. The post was made the day of the shooting at 2:13 p.m. — nearly four hours before the shooting, according to screenshots reviewed by the Daily Journal.

It has not been confirmed by police that the post was made by the gunman, though people on social media are attributing it to him.

The post reads, “name is Jonathan and today seems like a good day to die.”

The post is accompanied by what appears to be a photo of a Nazi officer getting married and includes a link to three photos showing a young man posing for photos with two rifles in the background. In two photos, the man is wearing a vest, a hat and sunglasses and his face is obscured by a face mask. The third photo is of three weapons sitting on a beige carpeted floor. Two of the weapons are semi-automatic rifles and the third is a handgun, the screenshots show.

The weapons in the photos appear to match the descriptions of the weapons police found in the suspect’s belongings.

The photos have been taken down from the Imgur photo website, with the link now showing a message saying, “The image you are requesting does not exist or is no longer available.” However, screenshots of the images are continuing to be posted on social media.

Greenwood police have been made aware of the post and are investigating it, Jim Ison, police chief, told the Daily Journal on July 20.

“We are working with the FBI on this and have submitted search warrants to retrieve Sapirman’s social media account records and archives,” he said.

The FBI and Greenwood police are working together as both agencies continue to investigate the shooting. Greenwood continues to be the lead investigative agency, while the FBI is providing support and resources to assist Greenwood police, Stapleton said Thursday.