Gunman kills five at bank in Louisville, Kentucky: Police

US authorities identify shooter as 23-year-old employee of the bank, as Biden calls for action against gun violence.

At least five people have been killed in a mass shooting at a bank in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, in what the mayor described as an “evil act of targeted violence”.

The Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) identified the shooter on Monday as Connor Sturgeon, a 23-year-old employee of the Old National Bank, where the incident took place.

Sturgeon killed five colleagues and wounded nine other people, including two police officers, as he livestreamed his attack on his workplace. Police said he was killed after exchanging fire with law enforcement officers.

Officials identified the victims as Joshua Barrick, 40; Deana Eckert, 57; Thomas Elliot, 63; Juliana Farmer, 45; and James Tutt, 64.

A rifle was the gunman’s “weapon of choice”,  interim Police Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel told reporters. “This will be a long, complex investigation involving local, state and federal partners,” she said.

The shooting has renewed calls for gun reforms in the United States, with President Joe Biden singling out Republicans as he demanded action to “protect our communities”.

“It’s long past time that we require safe storage of firearms. Require background checks for all gun sales. Eliminate gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability,” Biden said in a statement.

Local officials in Kentucky also called for support for the community. “This is awful,” Governor Andy Beshear told reporters during a news briefing. He later said that Elliot, one of the victims, was one of his “closest friends”.

Holding back tears, Beshear urged compassion for survivors. “Our bodies and our minds are not meant to go through these types of tragedies,” he said. “There are a lot of people that are hurting today.”

Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg vowed that the city would come together to prevent “horrific acts of gun violence from continuing”.

Sturgeon was an intern at the bank for three summers from 2018 to 2020 before becoming a full-time employee in 2022 as a portfolio banker, according to his LinkedIn profile page.

“This was a targeted act of evil violence” Greenberg, who said he also knew Elliot, told reporters.

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who represents Kentucky, said he was “devastated” by news of the shooting.

“We send our prayers to the victims, their families, and the city of Louisville as we await more information,” McConnell said in a tweet.

Video from the scene showed officers and ambulances in the street. The FBI said it also sent agents to the area.

Jim Ryan, CEO of the Old National Bank, said the safety of employees and people the bank serves at its branches was “paramount”.

“As we await more details, we are deploying employee assistance support and keeping everyone affected by this tragedy in our thoughts and prayers,” Ryan said in a statement.

The incident in Louisville, a city of 630,000 people in northern Kentucky, is the latest mass shooting in the US, which has struggled for years to curb gun violence.

Local news outlets reported on Monday that another fatal shooting took place in Louisville not far from the bank attack; one person was killed and a second injured in a separate incident outside a Jefferson Community and Technical College building in Louisville.

The Gun Violence Archive, a website that tracks shootings in the US, has reported 145 mass shootings – incidents with four or more casualties – in the country this year so far.

Biden has been urging lawmakers to enact an assault weapons ban, but gun reform is a politically contentious issue.

Republicans have long rejected the passage of stricter gun control measures, arguing that it would violate the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, which they say protects citizens’ right to bear arms.

Several Democrats invoked the Louisville shooting on Monday to urge reforming gun laws.

Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, called for “meaningful action” against gun violence.

“This kind of gun violence is a uniquely American epidemic,” Jayapal said in a social media post.

Source: Al Jazeera