Listen to Austin 360 Radio

FedEx shooting: What we learned over the weekend about Indianapolis' latest mass shooting

Lawrence Andrea
Indianapolis Star

Leer en español

The Indianapolis community is once again left to navigate tragedy after the city's third mass shooting in as many months.

This time, eight people were killed and several more were injured when a gunman opened fire on workers at the FedEx Ground Plainfield Operations Center on the southwest side of Indianapolis Thursday night. 

Police identified the shooter as a 19-year-old from Indianapolis and said the suspect killed himself inside the FedEx facility before police arrived shortly after the 11 p.m. rampage. No motive has been released in the shooting. 

Here's what we've learned about the shooting at FedEx.

Who are the victims?

The eight Indianapolis community members killed were mothers, grandmothers, sons, daughters and friends. One was a former student, another a volunteer for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and yet another a sister and dog lover. Four were part of Indianapolis' Sikh community. Click the names of the victims to learn more about them. 

Samaria Blackwell, 19.

Karli Smith, 19.

Matthew Alexander, 32.

Amarjit Sekhon, 48.

Jasvinder Kaur, 50.

Amarjeet Kaur Johal, 66.

Jaswinder Singh, 68. 

John Weisert, 74.

Who was the shooter?

Authorities on Friday identified the suspect as 19-year-old Brandon Scott Hole, of Indianapolis.

Hole was a former FedEx employee, police said, and he last worked for the company in 2020. He was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside the facility. It remains unclear why Hole shot and killed the eight workers.

Brandon Scott Hole

But Hole was previously known to authorities, according to the FBI. 

The teen's mother in March 2020 warned police he might try to commit "suicide by cop," FBI Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge Paul Keenan said. An Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department report from March 3, 2020, references a mental health check for suicidal tendencies in the 1100 block of North Huber St. and lists Hole, then 18, as being arrested.

The report notes police seized a shotgun "from dangerous person." 

It also said the Behavioral Health Unit "initiated immediate detention on male reported to have voiced suicidal ideation." It added Hole had purchased a gun within the last 24 hours and talked about suicide by police, a situation in which a person prompts police to kill them.

Hole was transported to a local hospital and later interviewed by the FBI in April 2020. No "Racially Motivated Violent Extremism" was identified at the time, officials said, and no criminal violation was found. The shotgun was not returned. 

What kind of gun was used in the shooting?

Hole used two assault rifles in the massacre, Indianapolis police said Saturday. 

The teen bought both guns legally in July and September of last year, but police would not say where Hole bought them, citing the ongoing investigation. 

Those purchases came just months after his mother reported the "suicide by cop" incident. Witnesses told IMPD Hole used both rifles during the shooting. 

What has the suspect's family said?

The shooter's family on Saturday released a statement apologizing for Hole's actions and noting they had tried to get him help. 

“We are devastated at the loss of life caused as a result of Brandon’s actions; through the love of his family, we tried to get him the help he needed," the statement reads. "Our sincerest and most heartfelt apologies go out to the victims of this senseless tragedy. We are so sorry for the pain and hurt being felt by their families and the entire Indianapolis community."

The family declined all interview requests.

What about Indiana's red flag law?

On paper, Indiana's red flag law should have stopped Hole.  

Called the Jake Laird Law in honor of a slain Indianapolis police officer, the red flag legislation introduced and approved by the Indiana General Assembly in 2005 allows law enforcement to seize guns from people who are deemed a danger to themselves or others.

The laws also guarantee due process for gun owners, requiring a court to decide whether to return or hold the weapons. If the gun owner is denied, the law prohibits them from purchasing or possessing firearms for a year before another court hearing can be held.

After a warrantless seizure, the officer who recognizes the potential red flags must submit a written statement to the court describing why the person is considered dangerous. Judges have 14 days to review seizures, and gun owners can fight it in court.

If a judge finds that probable cause exists, the law enforcement agency can keep the guns. If not, the firearms are returned.

But online court records indicate Hole never made a court appearance to prove his competency following his March 2020 incident.

In fact, Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears on Monday said limitations surrounding the legislation, as well as the circumstances of the original seizure, motivated his office to not file a red flag law petition against Hole.

More:FedEx shooting: Indiana red flag law was not used for Brandon Scott Hole

What has been done to recognize the victims?

The Indianapolis community held a number of vigils over the weekend to honor the eight victims of Thursday's FedEx shooting. 

Family, friends and neighbors of those killed shared memories of their loved ones. But many also used the spaces to call for community action and stronger gun laws.

"It’s not enough to just send thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims," Rimpi Girn, whose aunt, Jasvinder Kaur, was killed in the FedEx shooting, said Sunday, "We need to see change in the community, change in the legislation and change in the attitude towards the community and gun violence."

"It’s time that we need raise our voice against the gun laws," she added. "We need to fix the loopholes in there. It’s time to fill them.”

More:FedEx donated $500,000 to victims of shooting. Here's how you can help.

What do we know about Indianapolis' Sikh community?

Four of the eight victims of the rampage were members of the Sikh community. 

There are an estimated 5,000 Sikhs in Central Indiana and 10,000 in the state, according to the Sikh Coalition, who has been outspoken in its condemnation of the Thursday shooting. 

Here are some facts about the Sikh community, according to previous reporting by IndyStar.

Are Sikh Muslim? No, they are not. Sikh women wear head scarves and men wear turbans and are sometimes misidentified as Muslims. Sikh activists say that violence against the community spiked after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

They are monotheistic. Sikhs believe in one god and believe in equality among sexes. Sikhism, which originated in northwest India, rejects the caste system and emphasizes service to humanity. The Sikh holy book, Guru Granth Sahib, was written in the 1600s and contains writings by the religion’s 10 gurus, or teachers, who lived from 1469 to 1708.

Why do they wear turbans? The turban was once only worn by nobility in India. The Sikh religion teaches that all are noble, so all practitioners wear turbans, according to Sikhnet.com.

Sikh temples are open places. The Sikh temple, or gurdwara, is open to visitors and often serves vegetarian meals to visitors and worshipers.

Do we know anything new about the shooting?

The shooting occurred during a shift change at the FedEx plant, and many workers were either just arriving to the facility or outside on break when the shooting began in the parking lot, workers told IndyStar. 

Four victims were found outside the facility. Another four were found inside. The shooting has raised questions about the security of the building, and a number of family members of those killed have called on FedEx to reevaluate its security procedures.

“To FedEx — we want to know why is there no security at the gate?" asked Ramandeep Chohan at a vigil at Monument Circle Sunday. "Why was no one looking at the security footage while this was occurring? Why do you have more security to protect your merchandise than the people that actually work there?”

FedEx declined to say if the company is re-evaluating or changing its security measures. 

The incident also raised immediate questions about FedEx's no-phone policy, which left dozens of families early Friday morning waiting hours to hear news of their loved ones.

The company has said the policy aims to reduce distractions in the workplace. It has no plans to rescind the policy. 

This article was compiled from reporting by IndyStar staff.

Contact Lawrence Andrea at 317-775-4313 or landrea@indystar.com. Follow him on Twitter @lawrencegandrea.