by: CASEY SMITH, Associated Press
Posted: Apr 30, 2021 / 11:33 PM EDT
Updated: May 1, 2021 / 4:08 p.m. EDT
Members of the Sikh coalition gather at the Indianapolis Sikh Satsang in Indianapolis on Saturday, April 17, 2021 to formulate the group’s response to the shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, which killed four members of the Sikh community Life came. A gunman killed eight people and wounded several others before suicide in a nighttime attack at a FedEx facility near Indianapolis Airport. (AP Photo / Michael Conroy)
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Indiana’s governor told members of the Sikh community and others who gathered at a soccer stadium in downtown Indianapolis on Saturday to remember the eight people killed in mass shootings at a FedEx warehouse .
The three-hour event at Lucas Oil Stadium came two weeks after a former FedEx employee fatally shot and killed eight people, including four members of the Indianapolis Sikh community, before killing himself. The authorities did not publish a motive for the April 15 shooting.
Under the open roof of the stadium, Republican Governor Eric Holcomb said in his opening speech that the capital “is still being haunted by the effects of that dark night”.
“Never in my wildest imagination have I seen that day or occasion of the gathering as a reason to unite,” Holcomb told the hundreds of people who attended the stadium where the Indianapolis Colts are playing. “Why does a day have to be so dark? Why does tragedy have to hit and tear a community apart, tear humanity apart? This pain is sure to continue if we continue to live with the loss for all of our days to come. “
In a letter read during the ceremony, former Vice President Mike Pence highlighted the special grief of the Sikh community, whose members “add to the tapestry of this land.”
“Know that our hearts and prayers are with you all,” said Pence, a former governor of Indiana, in his letter. “We join forces with Hoosiers in Indiana and Americans across the country to offer our deepest condolences. … You have been in our hearts since that terrible night and remain in our prayers today. “
Sikhism is a monotheistic belief that was founded more than 500 years ago in the Indian region of Punjab. It is the fifth largest religion in the world with approximately 25 million followers, including approximately 500,000 in the United States.
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said his message to the Sikh community, immigrants and “anyone who feels threatened by this act just because they are” is that they are “welcome in Indianapolis and.” it is the responsibility of each and every one of us. ” Residents to make sure you know this is true. “
Hogsett, a Democrat, also reiterated his earlier calls for gun policy changes, saying the shooting could have been prevented. He said the city, state and country are “far out of date for transformative action”.
Authorities said 19-year-old Brandon Scott Hole had two rifles that he could legally buy, even after his mother called the police last year to say her son might “commit suicide by cops”. Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mearshas has been heavily criticized for choosing not to go to trial that may have prevented Hole from accessing the guns.
“If gun violence costs a life, it affects us all,” said Hogsett.
Private services for victims from the Sikh community are expected to take place in the coming week. The procedure begins with cremation, followed by up to 20 days of reading the 1,400-page Guru Granth Sahib pamphlet.
About two dozen quick visas were issued to the families of the victims to allow relatives to travel overseas to attend the funeral rites, said Amrith Kaur, legal director with the Sikh coalition. They arrive from India just days before the United States’ restriction on travel – a response sparked by a surge in COVID-19 cases in the country and the emergence of potentially dangerous variants of the coronavirus.
Casey Smith is a corps member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a not-for-profit national service program in which journalists report undercover issues to local newsrooms.