By TOM COYNE
A man fatally shot two women in a northern Indiana grocery store and was waving a gun at a kneeling store manager when police officers arrived and killed the gunman, authorities said Thursday.
The manager and another employee at the Martin’s Super Market in Elkhart escaped unharmed despite confrontations with the gunman Wednesday night, Indiana State Police Sgt. Trent Smith said at a news conference.
Smith said city police received a call about a gunman in the store shortly after 10 p.m. Officers who were nearby on an unrelated call arrived within three minutes and found the shooter brandishing a semi-automatic handgun at the manager, who was on his knees on the floor as if in prayer.
When the shooter turned toward the officers, the manager ran. The gunman then also ran, down a parallel aisle, Smith said. Police ran into him moments later as they were clearing the store and as the shooter was doing something with the gun. That’s when officers shot the gunman, Smith said.
State police identified the shooter as Shawn Walter Bair, 22, of Elkhart. Officers found the bodies of 20-year-old Krystle Dikes of Elkhart, a Martin’s employee who was stocking shelves, 44-year-old customer Rachelle Godfread of Elkhart about 12 aisles apart. Godfread been shot multiple times, Smith said.
Smith said surveillance video from the store showed Bair shot at another employee but missed as she fled. She escaped unharmed.
Police are still seeking a motive and trying to determine whether there was any relationship between Bair and any of his victims, Smith said.
Smith said Bair, who lived in the area, entered the store around 9:30 p.m. wearing a heavy overcoat. A security guard who knew Bair became suspicious as he watched the man because he wasn’t buying anything.
“He took his time. I think he might have been hesitant while he was in the store. But whether he was watching people or picking out people, we’ll never know,” Smith said.
He said Dikes was killed around 10:05 p.m.
Smith applauded the officers’ swift response, saying there was no doubt they saved lives.
A large knife was found near the gunman’s body, he said.
State police were investigating the incident because the Elkhart Police Department was involved in the shooting, Smith said.
Martin’s Super Market said the Elkhart store would remain closed Thursday. Crime tape blocked off the parking lot, where a half dozen snow-covered vehicles sat.
“The entire Martin’s family is saddened by this tragedy,” company president and CEO Rob Bartels said in a news release.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families involved and the entire community,” Bartels said.
Elkhart is in far northern Indiana, just south of the Indiana-Michigan border, and about 15 miles east of South Bend.