Elkhart shooting suspect ID'd as Shawn Walter Bair; Victims ID'd as Rachelle Godfread, Krystle Dikes

As police try to figure out what triggered the crime, friends and family of the two women killed shared their heartbreak.
January 16, 2014 8:26:55 PM PST
Elkhart shooting suspect Shawn Walter Bair was fatally shot by police after killing two people at a grocery store, Indiana State Police said.

Bair, 22, of Elkhart, Ind., used a semi-automatic handgun to shoot 20-year-old Krystle Dikes, who worked at the store, and 44-year-old Rachelle Godfread, a customer, on Wednesday around 10 p.m.

Bair lived nearby at his mother's home and was known at the store, Indiana State Police Sgt. Trent Smith said. No one answered Thursday when Eyewitness News knocked on the door.

He spent about 20 minutes in the store, talking on the phone and texting before opening fire. He was wearing a heavy trench coat.

"It was obvious he was going to the store with a mission. As far as how long he'd been thinking about this, whether a month or a year, we don't know," Sgt. Smith said.

Bair first shot Dikes, and then he went after another female employee, but she was able to get away. He turned and walked to the other end of the store where he encountered a customer, Godfread. He shot and killed her. Next, he held the manager of the store hostage, telling him to get down on his knees. That's when Elkhart police arrived. Their entrance distracted Bair, and the manager got away.

Police officers followed Bair, and fatally shot him.

"We have not determined a motive," Sgt. Smith said. Originally, it did not appear Bair had a relationship with the victims. Now, police said Bair may have dated the 20-year-old victim in the past. They have been to Bair's home, where he lived with his parents, and are reviewing the store surveillance. "We don't have all the pieces of the puzzle yet."

The entire incident lasted only minutes. Police were on the scene quickly. Sgt. Smith said several employees at Martin's were seen helping customers get out of the store.

"We saw people running. We saw people hiding. We saw people peeking around the corner," Sgt. Smith said.

Suspect had history of legal, drug problems

Neighbors say they would see Bair walk to the store regularly from his mother's home, about a mile away.They say he and his family generally kept to themselves.

"I asked him one time to mow my yard to help me (What'd he say?) Oh no, nothing to do with work. You know, but, he was kind of a loner," said Dottie Stepp, neighbor.

A store employee who was not working on the night of the shooting said she's familiar with Bair.

"I've waited on him for hot meals in the past and there's been no red flags. Never says anything unusual, he smiles and says thank you. Very polite young man," said Patricia, a Martin's store employee.

Bair had a history of legal troubles that included a felony theft conviction from Martin's Super Market. He also had a history of drug problems. Three years ago, he was convicted for felony drug possession and sentenced to prison. He was reportedly able to avoid that sentence by going for treatment at the Oak Lawn Psychiatric Hospital.

Police also said his Faceboook page had pictures and references to serial killers.

Experience from mass shootings nationwide has led to quicker responses to situations like the one in Elkhart. Police now are trained to confront gunman immediately.

Twenty-four hours later, a motive remains unclear. But on Thursday night, authorities are investigating whether the alleged gunman knew the employee who was shot and killed.

Community struggles to heal after tragic shooting

As police try to figure out what triggered the crime, friends and family of the two women killed shared their heartbreak.

On Thursday night, Russ Deford clings to text messages and photos as reminders of a close friendship he thought would last a lifetime.

"I could see her one last time, that would mean the world to me," said DeFord, victim's friend.

"Not in my backyard. I mean, not in my backyard," said Robin Hoeppner, mother of store employee.

After Bair was cornered by officers, police say he drew his weapon and was shot and killed.

"The unfortunate circumstances are that so many times answers to questions died with the person who did the shooting," said Sgt. Trent Smith, Indiana State Police.

For Deford, the answers to "why" are for another day.

"She did not deserve to go down like this. She glowed. She was amazing," said DeFord.

Vince Bossnack says he can't believe that his sister, Rachelle Godfread, is gone. On Thursday afternoon, he is struggling to heal.

"I'm sure that it was a case of her being in the wrong place at the wrong time," said Vince Bossnack, victim's brother.

The comfort of innocence many in Elkhart, Indiana enjoyed was lost Wednesday night after a local man, armed with a semi-automatic handgun, walked into the popular Martin's Super Market and opened fire, killing shopper Rachelle Godfread.

"I think numb right now, in shock. So it's, it hasn't really set in with me right now," said Bossnack.

The brother of the 44-year-old divorced mother of two sons says his sister had recently moved back to area to be closer to family after living abroad in Turkey and Spain.

"We've just been trying to work together and bring one of her sons up from southern Indiana and I'm taking care of her vehicle and possessions right now," said Bossnack.

Friends say Krystle Dikes had taken some child development classes and had hoped to work with kids as a career. The other victim, Rachelle Godfread, was also going to school. She wanted to be a nurse and had recently moved here to be closer to her son who plays college basketball in South Bend.