The parents of Louisville bank shooter Connor Sturgeon apologized in a new interview for his deadly rampage, which left five of his co-workers dead — with his “heartbroken” mother saying they “wish we could undo it, but we know we can’t.”
Lisa and Todd Sturgeon opened up about their grief during an interview that aired Thursday on NBC’s “Today” show, where they said they knew their son struggled with mental health issues but never imagined he could carry out such an atrocity.
“I’m afraid that whatever we come up with as the cause still isn’t going to make sense,” Todd told NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie.
Lisa said they did not see any signs of violent behavior before Connor, 25, walked into the Old National Bank where he worked and opened fire with his AR-15-style rifle, killing five people and injuring eight others.
“We had no real indications that something like this could have happened. There was no clear tell,” she said.
The couple said they are wracked with sorrow, confusion and heartbreak over the deaths, including their son, who was shot dead by police.
“It would have been bad enough if we had just lost our son,” Lisa said. “But for him to take others with us — with him — it’s just — it’s beyond what we’ve taught him, the way we live. We’re always saying, ‘Do no harm.’ He didn’t do that.”
Killed in the bloodbath were Tommy Elliott, 63, a senior vice president; Jim Tutt, 64, a market executive; Joshua Barrick, 40, another senior vice president; Juliana Farmer, 45, a commercial loan specialist; and Deana Eckert, 57, an executive administrative officer.Among the injured was rookie police officer Nickolas Wilt, 26, who suffered a critical brain injury, and fellow cop Cory Galloway, who was grazed in the shoulder in the fatal shootout.
Authorities have revealed that Sturgeon left behind a disturbing, 13-page manifesto describing his evil plan.
Asked by Guthrie what they would tell the families directly, Lisa said: “We are so sorry. We are heartbroken. We wish we could undo it, but we know we can’t.”
The couple said their son was seeing a psychiatrist and a counselor after his mental health problems appeared to begin a year ago in the form of panic attacks and anxiety.
They said his issues seemed to be improving while on medication — but that in the days leading up to the shooting, something appeared to change.
“He called me on the Tuesday before the event … and he said, ‘I had a panic attack yesterday and … I had to leave work,’” Lisa recalled, adding that she asked Connor what might have caused the episode and he said he was unsure.
“‘We’re here to help you,’” Lisa said she told him.
She said she met him for lunch the next day and then set up an appointment with his psychiatrist for that Thursday — five days before his assault.
After the Sturgeons and their son held a virtual meeting with his psychiatrist, he seemed to be “coming out of the crisis,” Lisa said in the interview.
The parents said they last saw Connor on Easter Sunday, the day before the shooting, when he took part in an egg hunt and watched the Masters with a friend.
Lisa said he seemed “fine,” not knowing that five days earlier, he had legally bought an assault rifle.
On the morning of the shooting, the mom received a terrifying call from her son’s roommate, who said Connor had told him he was “going to go in and shoot up Old National.”
Lisa said the roommate had also found some notes Connor left behind.
She said she was shocked that Connor had a firearm and recalled asking herself, “Where did he get a gun? We don’t have guns.”
Asked to describe what she was thinking after the call, Lisa said: “There’s no way this is happening. Please stop him. Please make sure nobody gets hurt.”
Todd said he was in his car when he learned about gunfire at his son’s workplace.
“You go from praying for his life to praying that this is unimaginable, that he just commits suicide and doesn’t hurt anyone else,” he said, struggling to contain his emotion.
The couple said Connor “absolutely” should not have been able to buy the weapon.“What we’re hoping to do is stimulate some conversation around this,” Todd said. “I think the overwhelming majority of Americans don’t want people in an impaired state to have a weapon in their hand.”
He added: “Now it becomes more complex to thread the needle and protect us from those people while still being conscious of individual rights and liberties.”
Lisa said: “How many mass shootings have there been this calendar year already? It has been happening to other people like us, and we’re continuing to let it happen, and we have to fix that.”
The mother said she and her husband are consumed by guilt that Connor “punished others — he took others’ lives.”
Todd said that “well-meaning people keep saying to us, ‘You know, you did what any reasonable parents would have done.’
“But Connor in his darkest hour needed us to be exceptional, not reasonable — and we failed him,” he said.
“We failed those people,” Lisa added.