GREENWOOD, Ind. (WXIN) — Within 15 seconds of a gunman opening fire in a mall in Indiana, Elisjsha Dicken was able to step in and prevent further deaths. Police said Dicken was shopping with his girlfriend Sunday at the Greenwood Park Mall when he stopped at a cookie counter near the mall’s main thoroughfare.

Greenwood Police Chief James Ison speak during a press conference at the Greenwood City Center in Greenwood, Ind., Monday, July 18, 2022. (AP/Michael Conroy)

Three were fatally shot and two injured—including a 12-year-old girl—when Jonathan Douglas Sapirman, 20, opened fire with a rifle in the food court. When the gunman left the restroom to start shooting, police said Dicken’s response was heroic. Armed with a handgun, the civilian quickly engaged the shooter from a distance, police said.

Police described him as very proficient and tactically sound. Dicken started making his way towards the gunman, motioning for people to leave behind him. The gunman tried to retreat back into the restroom, but Dicken continued on, shooting the suspect until he fell.

Police said that Dicken next approached mall security, telling them that he neutralized the shooter. He waited with security until police arrived on the scene, and they took him to the Greenwood Police Department while they watched the security video and spoke with other witnesses to confirm his story. During the whole process, police said Dicken fully cooperated.

Law enforcement wait outside after a deadly shooting Sunday, July 17, 2022, at the Greenwood Park Mall, in Greenwood, Ind. (Kelly Wilkinson/The Indianapolis Star/AP)

“Our city, our community, and our state is grateful for his heroism in this situation,” said Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers.

According to police, when Dicken shot and killed the shooter, he saved lives despite having no police training or military background. Police also confirmed that Dicken was carrying a gun under the constitutional carry law that went into effect July 1.

Dicken has retained the Law Office of Guy Relford to act as his spokesperson. Their statement reads in part:

He is a true American hero who saved countless lives during a horrific event that could have been so much worse if not for Eli’s courage, preparedness and willingness to protect others. Because we want to respect the on-going criminal investigation by the Greenwood Police Department and take time to honor the three innocent lives lost, we won’t be making any substantive comments on Sunday’s events until after the authorities’ investigation is closed. In the interim, we ask that you respect the privacy of Eli and his family.

Guy A. Relford

While mass shootings have become a common occurrence in the U.S., they rarely end the way the Greenwood Park Mall did, data show. Under 3% of the active attacks in the U.S. between 2000 and 2021 were stopped by a civilian returning fire, according to a study from the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas State University. Such attacks ended far more frequently with bystanders subduing the gunman or police killing the attacker, according to a breakdown of the center’s national data cited by the New York Times.