By Dylan Lovan and Rebecca Reynolds
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Police body camera video released Tuesday shows the chaotic moments as police arrived at the scene of a mass shooting at a downtown Louisville bank as the shooter, who they couldn’t see from the street, rained bullets down on them.
The videos, taken from the lapels of two wounded officers, offer a rare perspective of police officers responding to a massacre that killed five and injured eight others on Monday. One, a rookie officer, was shot in the head minutes after arriving on the scene when his partner was grazed by a bullet and took cover while still trying to take down the shooter.
Louisville Metro Police Department Deputy Chief Paul Humphrey walked reporters through edited footage and still images at a news conference Tuesday and praised the responding officers for their heroism.
They received the call about a shooting at the Old National Bank at 8:38 a.m., and the two officers arrived three minutes later, according to a chronology provided by police. They hadn’t even gotten out of the patrol car when the gunman started shooting at them.
“Back up, back up, back up,” an officer yelled as gunshots thundered in the background.
A still from surveillance video showed the shooter, who worked at the bank, holding a rifle, wearing jeans, a blue button-down shirt and sneakers, surrounded by broken glass inside the building. He had already shot several people inside, and police said he set up an ambush to attack officers when they arrived.
The front doors are glass, raised from the sidewalk, and because of the reflection, officers couldn’t see the shooter inside, Humphrey said.
Officer Cory Galloway retrieved a rifle from the trunk of the patrol car.
“Cover for me,” he said.
Galloway was training rookie officer Nickolas Wilt, who had graduated from the police academy just 10 days earlier. The videos show them walking up the stairs towards the front door when the gunman fired a barrage of bullets.
Wilt was shot in the head. Galloway’s body camera shows him taking cover behind a concrete planter at the bottom of the stairs leading to the building.
“The shooter has an angle on that officer,” he is heard saying in the video. “We have to get up there.”
As other officers arrived, more gunshots are heard. Galloway fired at the gunman, then yelled, “I think he’s down,” and moved into the building. Galloway was grazed in the shoulder.
“I think you can see the excitement in that video,” Humphrey said. “You can understand the stress these officers are going through. … They did exactly what they had to do to save lives. When the officers arrived on the scene, not another person was shot.”
The video shows Galloway approaching the suspect, who was lying on the ground inside the lobby. As he walked, shards of glass shattered under his feet, and the shooter’s body can be seen with a long rifle at his side.
Wilt was transported in the back of a police car to a hospital, Humphrey said. In the chaotic first minutes, the police treated and triaged the victims inside. Humphrey said the ambulance service was short-staffed, so a police lieutenant drove the ambulance while emergency crews treated people at the scene.
Wilt was still in critical but stable condition Tuesday, according to University of Louisville Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jason Smith.
Two of the four injured still in the hospital had injuries that were not life-threatening, Smith said.
Police Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel said at a news conference that bank employee Connor Sturgeon, 25, bought the AR-15 rifle used in the April 4 attack at a local dealership.
Armed with the rifle, Sturgeon killed his colleagues — including a close friend of Kentucky’s governor — while live-streaming the attack before being killed by police, the chief said.
“We do know that this was targeted. He obviously knew these individuals because he worked there,” Gwinn-Villaroel said, but gave no indication of a motive behind the shooting.
Gwinn-Villaroel praised the “heroic actions” of officers who engaged the shooter without hesitation when they arrived.
“They went into danger to save and preserve life,” she said. “They stopped the threat so other lives could be saved. Without hesitation, they did what they were called to do.”
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said he lost one of his closest friends in the shooting.
“Tommy Elliott helped me build my legal career, helped me become governor, gave me advice on being a good father,” Beshear said, his voice shaking with emotion. “He’s one of the people I talked to the most in the world, and very rarely did we talk about my job. He was an incredible friend.”
Also killed in the shooting were Josh Barrick, Jim Tutt, Juliana Farmer and Deana Eckert, police said.