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Gunman in Martin's killings shot himself in the head, had suicide note on him

Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill Jr. held a press conference on Thursday, March 27, about the Martin's Super Market shooting in January.

Posted on March 27, 2014 at 10:31 a.m. | Updated on March 27, 2014 at 11:22 a.m.

ELKHART — While the man who shot and killed two women in a Martin's Super Market earlier this year went into the store with a suicide note, investigators have been unable to uncover a motive for his actions.

During a press conference on Thursday, March 27, Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill Jr. said that 22-year-old Shawn Bair was carrying a note with brief messages for family and loved ones and a statement expressing his distaste for the general public "in vulgar terms."

The note did not explain why Bair decided to open fire in the grocery store.

"A lot of the 'why' died that night," Hill said.

While Hill said Bair had suffered from bouts with mental illness and had previously displayed suicidal tendencies, there were no signs indicating he might become homicidal.

"I don't know that such a circumstance is predictable by anyone's behavior," he said.

Hill said investigators have not been able to find any connection or previous relationship between Bair and his victims, 20-year-old Martin's employee Krystal Dikes and 44-year-old Rachelle Godfread.

"This appears to be a situation wherein these unfortunate folks were in the wrong place at the wrong time and were the victims of an individual who had made a determination that he was going to take his own life and become homicidal in the process," Hill said.

Hill said an investigation by the Indiana State Police found that Bair entered the store around 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 15 wearing a long dark coat. Bair wandered through the store, appearing to send text messages and talk on his cell phone, for about 30 minutes.

Investigators are still working to determine who Bair was calling and texting, but they found he had texted his mother to ask if she was going to the store, Hill said. There is no reason to believe Bair's mother was a target.

Around 10 p.m., Bair dropped his coat, pulled out a 40-caliber handgun and walked toward Dikes on the west side of the store. He fired three times, striking Dikes twice, once fatally.

He was then confronted by two other Martin's employees. He ordered one of them to stop but she ran, screaming that there was a shooter in the store. Bair fired once at her and missed.

Hill credited this woman with saving lives by alerting other people and getting them out of the store while another employee called 911.

Bair then moved east through the store and came upon Godfread. He again fired three shots, hitting Godfread twice. One of the shots was fatal.

Bair then encountered a store manager in an aisle and forced the man to his knees. 

Hill said Bair taunted the manager, suggesting that he pray for his life.

At that time, Elkhart police officers Cpl. Cody Skipper and Cpl. Jason Tripp, who were on an unrelated call nearby, arrived at the store. 

Armed with AR-15 assault rifles, they entered the store and found Bair and the manager. Bair was distracted by the officers' arrival and the manager was able to escape.

Bair then ran north down the aisle.

When the officers caught up to Bair, they ordered him to drop his gun. Instead, he raised it and the officers fired 10 times at him.

Hill said eight or nine of the shots hit Bair, one piercing his heart. 

At the same time, Bair continued raising the gun to his own head and fired. 

Both the shot to the heart and the shot to the head would have proved fatal, but the coroner was unable to determine which one killed Bair, said Hill, who also noted that investigators believe Bair purchased the gun in a private transaction from a friend.

A toxicology report showed THC, a chemical found in marijuana, in his system.

Hill said that after reviewing the state police report, he determined that Skipper and Tripp acted reasonably in their use of deadly force to subdue Bair and there is no need to convene a grand jury.

"They did their job and to do so takes a great deal of grit," Hill said. "They did their job, they did it in a courageous manner and they did it well."

In any officer-involved shooting, it is the Elkhart Police Department's policy to turn the investigation over to the Indiana State Police. Once the state police investigators conclude their investigation, they turn the case over to the Elkhart County Prosecutor's office. The prosecutor's office reviews the case and determines whether any criminal charges are warranted. After any criminal proceedings have finished, the Elkhart Police Department conducts its own internal review of the incident.

Skipper and Tripp remain on administrative leave until the internal review is completed.




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