BY CASEY SMITH and RICK CALLAHAN
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – The former employee who shot and killed eight people at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis was interviewed by FBI agents last year after his mother called police to say that her son “committed suicide by cops.” “Could commit, the office said on Friday.
Coroners released the names of the victims late Friday, a little less than 24 hours after the recent mass shootings to rock the United States. Four of them were members of the Sikh community in Indianapolis. The attack came another blow to the Asian-American community a month after six people of Asian origin were killed in mass shootings in the Atlanta area and during the ongoing attacks against Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Marion County Coroner’s office identified the dead as Matthew R. Alexander, 32; Samaria Blackwell, 19; Amarjeet Johal, 66; Jaswinder Kaur, 64; Jaswinder Singh, 68; Amarjit Sekhon, 48; Karli Smith, 19; and John Weisert, 74.
The shooter was identified as Brandon Scott Hole, 19, from Indianapolis, Deputy Police Commissioner Craig McCartt said at a news conference. Investigators ransacked an Indianapolis home associated with Hole and confiscated evidence including desktop computers and other electronic media, McCartt said.
Late Thursday, Hole began shooting arbitrarily at people in the FedEx facility parking lot, killing four people before entering the building, fatally shooting four more, and then pointing the gun at himself, McCartt said. He said he didn’t know whether Hole legally owned the gun.
“There was no confrontation with anyone who was there,” he said. “There was no interference, there was no argument. He just seemed to start shooting by chance. “
McCartt said the murders occurred within minutes and that at least 100 people were in the facility at that time. Many were changing shifts or taking lunch breaks, he said. Several people were injured, including five who were rushed to the hospital.
“You deserve it so much better,” tweeted a man who identified himself as Johal’s grandson on Friday night. Johal had planned to work a double shift on Thursday so she could take Fridays off, according to the grandson, who wouldn’t give his full name but identifies himself as “Komal” on his Twitter page. Johal later decided to take her check and go home and was still holding the check when police found her, Komal said.
“(What) a rough and cruel world we live in,” he added.
Smith, the youngest of the victims, last had contact with her family shortly before 11 p.m. on Thursday, family members said in social media posts on late Friday. Dominique Troutman, Smith’s sister, waited hours at the Holiday Inn for her sister’s update. “Words can’t even explain how I feel. … I’m so hurt, ”Troutman said in a Facebook post Friday night.
Weisert had worked for FedEx as a bag dealer for four years, his wife Carol told WISH-TV. The couple had been married for almost 50 years.
President Joe Biden said he was informed of the shooting and described gun violence in the US as an “epidemic”
“Too many Americans die from gun violence every day. It taints our character and permeates the soul of our nation, ”he said in a statement. He later tweeted: “We can and must do more to reduce gun violence and save lives.”
A FedEx employee said he was working in the building Thursday night when he heard several gunshots in rapid succession.
“I see a man come out with a gun in hand and he starts shooting and he starts screaming things that I couldn’t understand,” Levi Miller told WTHR-TV. “In the end I ducked to make sure he didn’t see me because I thought he would see me and he was going to shoot me.”
Paul Keenan, special agent for the FBI Field Office in Indianapolis, said Friday that agents questioned Hole last year after his mother called police to say her son might commit “cop suicide.” He said the FBI was called after items were found in Hole’s bedroom, but he didn’t elaborate on what they were. He said agents had found no evidence of a crime and did not identify Hole as an advocate of a racially motivated ideology. A police report obtained from The Associated Press shows that officials confiscated a pump-action shotgun from Hole’s house after responding to the mother’s call. Keenan said the gun was never returned.
McCartt said Hole was a former FedEx employee and last worked for the company in 2020. The deputy chief of police said he did not know why Hole left the job or whether he had any connections with workers at the facility. He said the police have not yet uncovered a motive for the shooting.
Police Commissioner Randal Taylor noted that a “significant” number of staff at the FedEx facility are Sikh community members, and the Sikh coalition later issued a statement saying it was “sad to hear” that at least four of the dead were parishioners.
The coalition, which identifies itself as the largest Sikh civil rights organization in the US, said in the statement that it expects the authorities to “conduct a full investigation – including the possibility of bias as a factor”.
Varun Nikore, executive director of the AAPI Victory Alliance, a national advocacy group for Asian Americans and islanders in the Pacific, said in a statement that the shootings represented “another senseless massacre” that has become a daily occurrence in the country.
Nikore noted that gun violence in the US “reflects all spineless politicians committed to the gun lobby”.
FedEx chairman and chief executive officer Frederick Smith called the shooting a “senseless act”.
“This is a devastating day and words are hard to describe the emotions we are all feeling,” he wrote in an email to staff.
The killings were the latest in a string of mass shootings across the country and the third mass shooting in Indianapolis that year. Five people, including a pregnant woman, were shot dead in the city in January. A man was accused of killing three adults and a child before abducting his daughter during an argument in a house in March. In other states, eight people were fatally shot and killed in massage shops in the Atlanta area last month and ten were shot dead in a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado.
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said the community needs to protect itself from resignation and “the assumption that this just has to be and we might as well get used to it.”
This story was edited to correct the spelling of several names.
Associate press reporters Michael Balsamo and Eric Tucker from Washington contributed to this report. 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.