GREENWOOD, Ind. — As police rushed shoppers at Greenwood Park Mall to safety Sunday evening after a mass shooting, 19-year-old Shay Golden's grandmother was getting frightening calls and texts on her phone.
She didn't want to share her name publicly, but she did want to share with 13News what she calls heroic actions by her granddaughter and especially her granddaughter's boyfriend, 22-year-old Elisjsha Dicken, of Seymour.
"I just know when I got the phone call that she was at the mall, I was scared. She says 'Grandma I'm OK, but I'm terrified,' and then she says, 'Grandma what is the world coming to?' And she says 'I don't think I'll ever step foot in a mall again,'" the grandmother told 13News.
Her granddaughter was in the food court, where four people were shot and killed.
Shay was traumatized, but safe, her grandmother says, thanks to Shay's boyfriend, Elisjsha Dicken.
The 22-year-old from Seymour took down the mall shooter with lethal force. Eli's the man police are calling a hero.
"I just know that I'm so proud of him for what he's done. He saved my granddaughter. I know he did," Shay's grandmother said.
"She said on the phone when she called me, 'Grandma, I'm OK. That Eli pushed me out of the way and told me to get down and stay down,' and everybody should be proud of him for what he's done because if not, there would have been a lot more."
Shay told her grandma she'd gone to the restroom and was going back into the food court when she spotted the gunman coming out of the bathroom.
"She said she had that sick feeling like look behind her or beside her and he (the mall shooter) was walking out behind her and she said, 'Grandma I seen a long gun' and then all of a sudden Eli told her get down and pushed her and she said it went from there."
Shay hid behind a kiosk.
Then investigators said Eli, within seconds, stopped the suspect.
They tell 13News the 22-year-old pulled out the pistol he was carrying under the "Constitutional Carry" law, steadied himself against a pole and fired ten rounds at the gunman from about 40 yards away.
The suspect tried to go back into the bathroom, but instead fell to the ground.
"His actions were nothing short of heroic. He engaged the gunman from quite a distance with a handgun. Was very proficient in that, was tactically sound and as he moved to close in on the suspect, he was also motioning for people to exit behind him," Greenwood Police Chief Jim Ison said about Eli's actions. "Many people would have died last night if not for a responsible armed citizen that took action very quickly within the first two minutes of this shooting."
Police said Eli learned to shoot from his grandfather and that he had no military or police training.
"If he didn't stop, you think of how many people in that food court?" Shay's grandmother asked. "I'm just glad they're OK. It's just a heartbreaking situation."
Shay took action too, her grandmother says, despite her terror.
She helped a woman she saw laying on the ground, who'd been shot in the leg.
"She's been in nursing school for two years. She said she took her coat off and put a tourniquet around it and waited," her grandmother explained. "She jumped in and went into action, yeah, and it's just her adrenaline mode to just do that."
Both young people, courageous in chaos, police and family say, amid deadly trauma at the mall.
"I'm glad they're both OK and I'm glad he did what he did, but we need prayers for him. He needs prayers because that's...to take somebody's life is hard," Shay's grandmother said. "Just please let's pray for them. That's what we need is to pray. And pray for this world!"
Eli has not yet spoken with the media about the shooting. However, his lawyer Guy A. Relford released a statement on Monday that said Eli is waiting to speak about the shooting to respect the lives lost and the police's investigation.
The full statement can be read here:
"I am proud to serve as Eli Dicken's attorney and spokesperson. 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 ongoing 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."