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FedEx shooting gunman's past held more violence and missed red flags, documents reveal

Johnny Magdaleno Tony Cook
Indianapolis Star

INDIANAPOLIS — A report obtained by IndyStar after a public records fight with Indianapolis police shows the alleged gunman Brandon Hole, who killed eight people at a FedEx facility in April, was accused of punching his mother in the face and stabbing her with a table knife in 2013.

The police report raises new questions about why prosecutors did not present Hole's violent past to a judge and argue for his gun rights to be suspended when police detained Hole in March 2020. Hole's mother told police that month he was threatening suicide-by-cop, leading officers to confiscate a shotgun from him.  

When police seize a gun under Indiana’s “red flag” law, the incident is supposed to be brought before a judge to determine if the person wielding the weapon is dangerous. If the judge finds that they are dangerous, police can keep the gun and the person is prohibited from possessing firearms or purchasing new ones.

But in Hole’s case, prosecutors declined to take the case to court. As a result, Hole was later able to buy the two rifles he used to fatally shoot eight people and injure five others at the FedEx ground facility in southwest Indianapolis on April 15. The shooting ended when Hole killed himself.

Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears has deflected criticism for not doing more to stop Hole. During a news conference in the days after the shooting, he said his office didn't have access to evidence strong enough to convince a judge Hole was a danger to himself or others.

A police report documenting the 2020 encounter described Hole's suicidal claims and allegations he had hit his mom. Police also saw what they described as white supremacist websites on Hole's computer. 

It's unclear whether Mears' office was aware of the 2013 incident when it decided not to file a red flag case in 2020. When asked if prosecutors took the earlier incident into account, an office spokesperson declined to comment, referring reporters to the office's past comments.

"In this particular situation," Mears said during the April news conference, "we had a case where it was just a single incident. There were not many other incidents that were reported to us."

But there was another violent incident — the one documented in the 2013 police report.

'Demonstrate his masculinity': Indianapolis FedEx shooter's motivations revealed

What the report says

The report was originally requested by IndyStar, part of the USA TODAY Network, in April after Hole committed the FedEx shooting. In response, police provided a copy in May that was almost totally blacked out. It showed little information except that officers arrested a juvenile male in May 2013 for allegations of battery, intimidation and criminal confinement. 

He was 11 years old. 

The full details of the incident weren’t made available until Monday, when Indianapolis police turned over a largely unredacted version of the report. The disclosure came after IndyStar filed a formal public records complaint with the Indiana Public Access Counselor, who found that the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department failed to meet its burden for withholding the report.

The unredacted and redacted versions of an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department case report from a 2013 incident involving Brandon Hole are seen side by side.

At 8:07 p.m. on May 16, 2013, Indianapolis police officer Aaron Schlesinger responded to a disturbance involving a juvenile at a home in the city's east side where Hole's family was living at the time. Schlesinger found a man named Keith Larson sitting outside the address.

Larson said Brandon Hole, his girlfriend's son, had mental issues and was inside "tearing up the house."

Moments earlier Hole and Larson were allegedly having a water fight. Hole "became angry" after Larson sprayed him with a hose, Larson said. The 11-year-old went inside the house and Larson followed, setting off a verbal argument. 

Hole left the house. Then he came back inside with the hose and started spraying Larson. He left again and started kicking Larson's car before walking towards East 10th Street. Larson intervened by chasing after Hole, picking him up by the shoulders and carrying him back inside the house. He feared for Hole's safety, Larson told the officer.

Hole yelled at Larson to get out of the house. Larson left, leaving Hole inside the house with his mother, Sheila.

Hole was yelling and screaming inside the home. He ran into the bathroom and locked himself inside.

His mother heard him destroying items in the bathroom. She told him to come outside. He refused. 

She went into the kitchen and grabbed a table knife. Back at the bathroom she used the knife to pick the lock. Hole stopped destroying things after she opened the door. Then he charged at her. 

"Brandon began to physically assault his mother by punching her twice on both sides of the face, slapping her several times to both sides of the face, kicked her legs, and then grabbed her left arm and bit her on the forearm," Schlesinger wrote in the report. 

Hole ran to the kitchen. His mother followed him. When she entered the kitchen, "Brandon proceeded to again slap, punch, and kick Ms. Hole," Schlesinger wrote. 

Hole went to the silverware drawer and pulled out two table knives. He tried to stab his mom. She tried to evade him but he stabbed her on her right forearm, causing a small laceration. 

Sheila Hole, the mother of FedEx mass shooter Brandon Scott Hole points to a scar on her arm where she alleges her son stabbed her with a table knife in 2013, on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2021, in Indianapolis.

When Hole approached his mother again she stepped out of the kitchen and into the family room. He sat on a chair between the two areas. Both knives were in his hands. He wouldn't let her leave. 

That's when Schlesinger knocked on the door and identified himself as the police. 

"If you answer the door, I'll stab you," Hole allegedly told his mother. 

"Fearing for her safety and life and believing that Brandon would follow thru on his threat, she stayed in the family room," Schlesinger wrote. 

Hole eventually put the knives down. He answered the door. He was still agitated, Schlesinger wrote, but he let the officer into the house.

Hole's mother didn't have any visible injuries on her head, face or legs. But Schlesinger did observe the faint outline of teeth on her left forearm and the laceration on her right arm. She complained of pain. 

Hole was arrested and transported to juvenile detention by a Marion County sheriff's wagon. 

More: Indianapolis shooter acted alone with 'no indication of racial bias'

'Deeply troubled' 

Four of the eight people Hole killed at FedEx were followers of the Sikh religion, prompting the Sikh Coalition, a national organization, to press law enforcement to investigate the April 15 mass shooting as a hate crime.

After reviewing the 2013 police report, the organization's legal director Amrith Kaur Aakre told IndyStar it's clear Hole was "deeply troubled." 

"It is disappointing that the system failed to adequately address the combination of issues he suffered from when he was a child, and continued to fail to recognize his mental health issues and propensities for violence as he grew up and kept weapons in his home," Aakre said in a prepared statement.

Sheila Hole, the mother of FedEx mass shooter Brandon Scott Hole is photographed on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2021, in Indianapolis.

"Hopefully, there are hard lessons learned here," she added, "lessons that can serve as a wake-up call not to ignore these warnings in the future so this type of tragedy doesn't happen again."

In September IndyStar raised the issue with the Marion County Prosecutor's Office again. Reporters asked the office why it didn't feel Hole should have gone in front of a judge for a red flag determination.

"The detective spoke with the mom as part of the investigation," deputy prosecutor Robert Beatson said, referring to the March 2020 incident. "And after speaking with her, the complaining witness and the potential respondent, we made the decision in agreement with IMPD that it did not merit the filing of a red flag case."

IndyStar pressed Beatson on the 2013 assault, allegations that he struck his mother in 2020 and her statements that he had threatened suicide by cop. Beatson repeated himself. "In conjunction with IMPD, we decided that it was not a case that merited a red flag filing."

IndyStar again followed up with the office for their response to the just-released full copy of the 2013 police report. 

"We have provided information and an interview on this matter," a spokesperson for the office said. "We have no further comment at this time."

Hole's mother, Sheila, took issue with their explanation. 

"I told them he needed help" 

Sheila Hole told IndyStar she thought she made herself clear by demanding police intervene in March 2020 to stop her child from killing himself. She provided IndyStar with a copy of the immediate detention report created by Indianapolis police when they took Hole to Eskenazi Hospital following his suicidal claims. 

"IMPD wrote on there he was a danger to himself and others on the immediate detention report. What did they mean? They spoke with me here," Hole said. "And I told them he needed help." 

The report, filled out by detective Robert Robinson on March 3, 2020, shows he checked boxes indicating he had reasonable grounds to believe Hole was a danger to himself and others. Robinson also attested that he believed Hole was suffering from a psychiatric disorder. 

At Eskenazi Hospital Brandon Hole told a doctor he felt fine and did not feel like hurting himself or anyone else. He was discharged that same day.

IndyStar asked Sheila Hole if she said anything to discourage authorities from filing a red flag case in court.

"Absolutely not," she said. 

She was upset her son had been released from the hospital so quickly and received no treatment or medication. She was also upset that her son had been provided with a copy of the immediate detention report, which showed that she had reported his physical abuse. That made Brandon angry, she said. When he got home from the hospital, she said he hit her again.

So when IMPD behavioral health officers showed up at their home a couple days after the March 2020 incident, she was frustrated and scared. She didn't want her son to attack her again. She asked the officers to leave.

"Because I had felt the wrath of their help two days before that," she said. "I did not need any more of that.”

Follow IndyStar courts reporter Johnny Magdaleno on Twitter: @IndyStarJohnny.

Follow IndyStar reporter Tony Cook on Twitter: @IndyStarTony.