Elisjsha Dicken, a 22-year-old Hoosier who happened to be spending Sunday evening at the Greenwood Park Mall with his girlfriend, used his personal 9mm Glock handgun to stop a mass shooter’s killing spree. He eliminated the gunman about two minutes after the shooting started, saving “countless” lives. In contrast, after a shooter began firing on children and teachers in Uvalde, Texas, less than two months ago, it took police 78 minutes of cowardice before an elite Border Patrol team ignored local police orders and entered the classroom where the killer was barricaded, shooting him.
The shooter in Greenwood, Indiana, took the lives of three victims before Dicken stopped him. In Uvalde, the death toll was seven times that.
Dicken had “no police training and no military background,” according to Greenwood Police Chief James Ison, who added that “his actions were nothing short of heroic. He engaged the gunman from quite a distance with a handgun, [and] was very tactically sound, and as he moved to close in on the suspect, he was also motioning for people to exit behind him.” He did not hold a permit, but legally carried the handgun under Indiana’s new “constitutional carry” law, which went into effect July 1. Local news reported that he “steadied himself against a pole” before firing 10 rounds at the shooter from a distance of 40 yards, bringing the shooter to the ground.
In contrast, Chief Pete Arredondo of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District was specifically trained for active shooter scenarios, but he still ordered officers not to enter the classroom where the gunman had barricaded himself in with fourth graders.
“Records show Arredondo recently completed eight hours of active shooter training in December of 2021. He also went through eight hours of the same training in 2020 and 16 hours of ‘Terrorism Response Tactics – Active Shooter’ in 2019,” The Federalist reported at the time. “Furthermore, the Uvalde Police Department bragged on Facebook in 2018 about a grant that equipped every officer with body armor.”
A Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman tried to defend the inaction of police, explaining “they could’ve been shot” in a CNN interview. DPS Director Steve McCraw admitted that the efforts made by police outside the barricaded door to “try and break through either that door or another door to get inside the classroom” were “none.” Police even reportedly detained concerned parents who tried to rush into the school when officers would not.
In contrast, Dicken didn’t run from the shooter nor express fears that he “could’ve been shot.” He pushed his girlfriend, 19-year-old Shay Goldman, to safety and told her to stay down while he engaged the shooter, according to Goldman’s grandmother. As a private citizen who put himself in danger to save others, Dicken did more to protect the lives of strangers than the Uvalde police did to protect the citizens they are sworn to defend.
Dicken has yet to make any statements, and his lawyer has asked for his privacy to be respected. “He needs prayers because to take someone’s life is hard,” Goldman’s grandmother told local news. But with consideration for his privacy, his name is the one that deserves to be plastered across headlines as a hero — not the name of the 20-year-old killer, as media outlets so often do after mass tragedies.
Dicken’s actions remind us that, even when law enforcement does everything right (unlike what happened in Uvalde), your first line of defense should be yourself. The distance from your hand to a holster on your hip will always be shorter than the distance police have to travel to the scene. And when officers of the state show regrettable cowardice, as they did in Uvalde, the only courage you have to rely upon is your own.