Parents of gunman who killed five at grief-stricken Louisville bank
Todd and Lisa Sturgeon knew their son had mental health issues. But before 25-year-old Connor Sturgeon opened fire on a downtown Louisville bank, they never imagined he could commit an act of such horrific violence.
“I’m afraid whatever cause we put forward still doesn’t make sense,” Todd Sturgeon told NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie in an exclusive “TODAY” interview that aired Thursday.
Lisa Sturgeon said she and her husband saw no signs of violence before their son, an employee of the Old National Bank on East Main Street, walked into his workplace and started shooting bullets with a AR-15 type rifle, killing five people and injuring eight others.
The violence has sent shockwaves through Louisville, Kentucky, and across the United States, where mass shootings in everyday locations have become sickeningly commonplace. The bloodshed in Louisville came just 14 days after a 28-year-old man shot and killed six people at a Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee.
“We had no real indication that anything like this could have happened,” Lisa Sturgeon said. “There was no clear saying.”
More than two weeks after filming, the Sturgeons are overwhelmed with emotions. There is confusion, grief, grief for the families of their son’s victims and grief over the loss of their child, whom police killed in a gunfight.
“It would have been bad enough if we had just lost our son,” Lisa Sturgeon said. “But for him to take others with us – with him – it’s just – it’s beyond what we taught him, our way of life. We always say do no harm. He didn’t do that.
Todd Sturgeon said he and his wife are afraid to even speak to the media. “We are concerned that we may inadvertently be disrespectful to families,” he said. They try to find the right time to reach out to their son’s victims in a “respectful” way.
When asked what they would say if they had the opportunity to speak directly to the families, Lisa Sturgeon said: ‘We are so sorry. We are heartbroken. We wish we could cancel it, but we know we can’t.
Josh Barrick, 40; Deana Eckert, 57; Tommy Elliott, 63; Juliana Farmer, 45; and Jim Tutt, 64 were killed in the violence.
The families of four of the victims declined to comment.
Jeffrey Barrick, Joshua’s brother, said: “A husband was kidnapped, a father was kidnapped, a brother and son were kidnapped. He didn’t do anything to deserve this, he just went to work one day. , like all of us. The fact that anyone can walk in and buy a semi-automatic weapon, their sole purpose being to kill many in seconds, is just plain wrong.
“Enough is enough. Inaction is not an option. We deserve to be safe in our communities – whether it’s in the bank, at the grocery store, in our schools or elsewhere. We simply have the heartbroken, this shouldn’t have happened.”
Two of the eight people injured were police officers, including Nikolas Wilt, who is still recovering from a gunshot wound to the head.
Mental health struggles
Todd and Lisa Sturgeon said their son’s mental health issues appeared to have started a year ago, taking the form of panic and anxiety attacks. He was seeing a psychiatrist and a counsellor, and he was taking medication. Connor’s problems seemed to be improving.
But in the days leading up to filming, something seemed to change.
“He called me the Tuesday before the event…and he was like, ‘I had a panic attack yesterday and…had to leave work,’” Lisa Sturgeon recalled . She said she asked her son what could have caused the panic attack and he wasn’t sure.
She remembers telling him, “We’re here to help you.
Lisa Sturgeon wanted to see her son. She had lunch with him the next morning. She then set an appointment with her psychiatrist for this Thursday, five days before the shooting. The three Sturgeons met with the psychiatrist via videoconference.
By the end of the session, it looked like Connor was “coming out of the slump,” Lisa Sturgeon recalled.
The last time the Sturgeons saw their son was the day before the shooting, on Easter Sunday. Todd Sturgeon saw his son take part in an Easter egg hunt that afternoon. Connor watched the Masters with a friend that night. He seemed “good” to his mother.
Five days earlier, their son had bought a gun.
A phone call, then a horrible shock
The morning of the shoot, Lisa Sturgeon received a call from her son’s roommate. Connor had told his roommate he was “going to come in and shoot Old National”.
The roommate found notes that Connor had left behind, Lisa Sturgeon recalled. She was shocked to learn that her son had a gun. She remembered thinking, “Where did he get a gun?” We have no weapons.
The moments after the call were surreal, a mixture of disbelief and panic. When asked to describe her state of mind at the time, Lisa Sturgeon said: ‘There’s no way this is going to happen. Please stop it. Please make sure no one is hurt.
“This can’t happen,” she remembers thinking.
Todd Sturgeon was driving his car when he learned that shots had been fired at the bank. “You go from praying for his life to praying that this is unimaginable, that he kills himself and doesn’t hurt anyone else,” he said.
Lisa Sturgeon rushed to the scene and called 911. But by then Connor Sturgeon was already at the bank.
“He punished others,” Lisa Sturgeon said. “He took the lives of others.”
The need for change
Connor Sturgeon legally purchased his AR-15 style weapon. His parents think he “absolutely” shouldn’t have been able to do that.
“What we’re hoping to do is stimulate a conversation around this,” Todd Sturgeon said. “I think the overwhelming majority of Americans don’t want people who are intoxicated to have a gun in their hands.
“Now it becomes more complex to thread the needle and protect ourselves from these people while being mindful of individual rights and freedoms,” he added.
The Sturgeons do not necessarily have specific political solutions in mind. But they know something has to change in the United States
“How many mass shootings have there been this calendar year already? It’s happened to other people like us, and we keep letting it happen,” Lisa Sturgeon said, “and we have to solve that. issue.
In their grief, the Sturgeons are also plagued by feelings of guilt.
“Well-meaning people keep telling us, ‘You know, you did what any reasonable parent would do.’ But Connor, in his darkest hours, needed us to be exceptional, not reasonable – and we let him down,” Todd Sturgeon said.
“We let these people down,” Lisa Sturgeon said.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
You can also call the network, formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741, or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.
If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – at email@example.com The content will be deleted within 24 hours.