GREENWOOD, Ind. — More than five months after a man opened fire inside the Greenwood Park Mall, authorities have yet to determine a clear motive for the shooter’s actions.

On July 17. Jonathan Sapirman entered the mall and spent more than an hour in the restroom before coming out shooting. Within seconds, Sapirman killed three people: 56-year-old Pedro Pineda, 30-year-old Victor Gomez and 37-year-old Rosa Mirian Rivera de Pineda.

Since the shooting, the Greenwood Police Department and FBI have been investigating the shooting, trying to find a motive. The investigation included a laptop found in the gunman’s apartment and a cell phone that he left in a toilet at the mall.

In August, the FBI said investigators were unable to retrieve information from the laptop. The device was badly damaged, as it was found inside an oven that had been set at a high temperature next to a can of butane.

While admitting it was speculation, Greenwood Police Chief James Ison said the most logical explanation is that Sapirman was hoping the fire would create a diversion away from the mall.

While investigators were able to dry out the cell phone enough to attempt to get into it, they were blocked by a six-digit password. The phone remains in FBI custody as they try to gain access, a process Chief Ison says could take years.

However, police were able to gain access to Sapirman’s call and text messages logs and his online activity. Through this, and interviews of those close to Sapirman, they were able to get a glimpse into the shooter’s past.

“This was just a young man who had a very troubled upbringing,” said Chief Ison. “I think his world was crashing down around him and, you know, unfortunately, this was the result.”

A troubled upbringing

Sapirman was born in Columbus Ohio where he lived with both parents until they separated when he was five. Police say that while his father moved to New York, Sapirman and his two brothers moved to Florida with their mother.

At times, Child Protective Services records indicate Sapirman was homeless as a child. Police say CPS also investigated allegations of abuse, neglect, drug use and truancy.

From the time Sapirman was 11 until he was 18, there were a total of 12 CPS reports filed. Police say he made his way in and out of foster care six times until his brother was awarded custody when Sapirman was 17.

While growing up, police say he had a few criminal arrests. This includes for being a runaway, bringing a knife to school, and getting into a fight one day at school.

Chief Ison said nothing about his juvenile history raised any red flags. However, his ex-girlfriend would later tell police that he was abusive towards her on several occasions, even sticking a gun in her mouth during an argument.

Police say the girlfriend told them that Sapirman once said “This world is not made for me and I will not live past 20 years old.” and that if he ever killed himself, he would take others with him.

Another one of his friends would later tell police that they joked that he was the “school-shooter type.”

Online activity sparks investigation

Even though Sapirman didn’t raise any red flags with law enforcement, some of his online activity prompted one person to take notice.

In 2019, the Baltimore FBI office got an anonymous tip about the online activity of a Reddit user that went by the handle greatergermanreich. The user was active on forums about mass killings.

The tipster was concerned about the user’s apparent infatuation with mass killings, but there was nothing about his activity that suggested he was going to commit one.

The FBI’s investigation into the account led them to the free wifi provided by the apartment complex where Sapirman lived. However, they were not able to pinpoint who was using that account and the investigation ended.

It wasn’t until after the shooting that police were able to confirm that Sapirman was the owner of the account. However, despite the account’s name, Chief Ison said they don’t believe he held antisemitic views.

“As a matter of fact, there was one post that he criticized someone for posting a swastika,” said Chief Ison. “As much as he was into it, it really just seems like a fascination and not that he is accepting any type of agreement with it.”

Alone and cut off

While Sapirman’s brother took him in at 17, police say he was on his own since around the time he turned 18.

Chief Ison said their investigation uncovered that Sapirman was essentially living alone at the apartment for two years. Sapirman apparently was not making payments to the apartment. His father was helping him pay the rent and his bills.

In May 2022, police say Sapirman quit his job, leaving him without any income. The next month, Sapirman’s brother removed his name from the apartment lease and his father cut off all financial assistance. His father even had his cell phone turned off.

“The father just expressed that he was 20 years old. He had quit his job and it was time for him to take responsibility for himself, get a job and pay his own bills,” said Chief Ison.

Just days before Sapirman would go to the mall, police say he got an eviction notice from the apartment complex due to non-payment of rent.

The final hours

Name is Jonathan and it’s a good day to die.

Post from Jonathan Sapirman to 4Chan

Around an hour before Jonathan went to the mall, police say he made this post to the online social media website 4Chan. In the post, Sapirman displayed the weapons he used and the attire they found him in.

Police believe that Sapirman never intended to walk out of the mall alive, as he was holding a gun to the back of his head in the 4Chan post. In previous online comments, he said how the Sandy Hook shooter was right in shooting himself in the back of the head.

“There were no indicators as he walked into that mall that day that would give anybody any type of alarm or concern or heads up that this was going to happen,” said Chief Ison.

Police say security footage from the mall shows Sapirman walking by several people, none of whom showed any sign of concern, or even acknowledged him.

While police don’t know what he did in the hour he spent in the bathroom, they hope the cell phone might show any video or message that he left.

Blind firing

While the actual shooting only lasted seconds, it left three people dead and several others injured. Although all three victims were Hispanic, police say there is no proof that they were targeted due to their race.

The victims were the closest to Sapirman when he started shooting. An investigation uncovered that Sapirman was extremely nearsighted. From a distance of 15 feet, he would only be able to see shapes and colors. He was not wearing contacts or glasses.

Police say it was only 15 seconds from by the time the first shot was fired until he was neutralized by Elisjsha Dicken, who stopped at a cookie counter close to the main walkways of the mall right before the shooting started.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Elijah Dickens saved many, many lives that night, and he is a true hero,” said Chief Ison.

Learning from the shooting

After the shooting, Greenwood police started to review what they did right and what their vulnerabilities were. Chief Ison says they hope to use this information to help work to help improve their response while the shooting is still fresh in their minds.

For people living in the area, Chief Ison said the shooting is a reminder to remain vigilant.

“There’s always going to be people that will do evil out there. We have to live our lives. We have to, you know, go. We just need to be more vigilant than sometimes, unfortunately. And this is one of those cases,” said Chief Ison.

Chief Ison said things could have been a lot worse if Dickens was not there to stop the shooting almost as soon as it started.

When it comes to the question of the true reason why Sapirman chose to shoot people inside the Greenwood Park Mall, people may never have a conclusive answer.

“Unfortunately, there’s only one person that has those answers and it’s the shooter,” concluded Chief Ison.