The Sikh community was rocked late Thursday evening, April 15, by mass shootings at the FedEx warehouse in Indianapolis, killing eight people, including four Sikhs.
Following this tragic incident, the Sikh community held a meeting at their local Gurdwara temple to discuss how to support the families of the victims and to obtain answers to many unanswered questions, including the safety of the Sikh community at the FedEx warehouse where the majority of the employees are Sikh.
Among the eight killed were Amarjeet Kaur Johal (66), Jaswinder Kaur (64), Jaswinder Singh (68) and Amarjit Sekhon (48). According to police and alleged killer Brandon Scott Hole, 19, a former FedEx employee who worked there last year.
Sekhon and her cousin Jaswinder Kaur entered the FedEx building from his parking lot, where both were killed by the alleged suspect.
Jaswinder Singh, 68, was there to pick up his first check.
“We have lost members of our family,” Kuldip Singh Sekhon told indica News, adding that Amarjit Sekhon is his sister-in-law and Jaswinder Kaur is his sons’ mother-in-law.
“We are in shock and life is completely destroyed,” he said with a sob. “We all came to this country with a dream, and none of us on earth would like an incident like this to happen to our family,” added the alleged suspect, adding that Hole must have had mental health problems.
“This is a loss for life,” Sekhon continued, explaining that both Sekhon and Kaur joined FedEx last November.
Gurdhir Kaur, who also works at the FedEx facility, told indica News, “When you work there, you feel like you’re with your big family.”
Kaur, who has been on the site for three years, said she usually works four days a week in 10-hour shifts that start at 11:30 p.m. On the night of the shooting, she said she was in her car in the facility’s parking lot with her sister-in-law, who also works there, with the lights off, waiting for her check-in time at 11:20 p.m. when they heard what they thought was a blast . To their shock and horror, Kaur said they then saw the alleged suspect and found that he shot and killed people. They then rushed home, where they cried in shock at what they saw.
“We enjoyed our work, never felt unsafe,” said Kaur, adding: It’s shocking and while we’re not cousins of the people who died, we knew them through work. “
Ganganpal, Singh, Kaur’s son, told indica News that site security, including an iron gate, prevented the suspect from entering the facility and more victims injured or killed.
Instead, said Singh, the alleged suspect pointed his gun at people standing in the parking lot who were either leaving after their shift or trying to enter the building for the next shift.
According to these witnesses, the suspect entered the facility’s parking lot between 11:07 p.m. and 11:15 p.m. during the shift changeover. They further estimate that the entire shooting incident actually lasted two and a half minutes.
Komal Chohan, who lost her maternal grandmother, Amarjeet Kaur, expressed what she and others have been through since then.
“I have several family members who work in this particular facility and are traumatized,” Chohan said. “My nani, my family, and our families should not feel unsafe at work, in their place of worship, or anywhere. Enough is enough. Our church has gone through enough trauma. “
Gurinder Sikh Khalsa, the founder of the non-profit organization SikhPac, which held a meeting in Sikh Gurdwara, said it was important now to meet the needs of the immediate future.
“The main concern is how to raise funds for them,” Khalsa said, explaining that the funerals would most likely begin next Saturday. His organization is working with the family members of the four Sikh victims to obtain visas and other basic needs during this tragic time.
When asked if he considers it a hate crime, Khalsa offered another unique perspective.
“This is a hate crime against humanity,” Khalsa said, explaining that if someone is so traumatized that they are willing to take someone else’s life and then take their own life, it means that they are mentally unstable .
“I call it hatred when someone takes someone’s life,” Khalsa said, explaining that it was a hate crime against people and that it could be of any race.
Another big problem, Khalsa said, is the U.S. government, which is above political or religious affiliation, working on gun control, particularly semi-automatic and automatic rifles, which he said should not be available.
However, Singh said he believes other matters that may help contribute to this incident need to be considered.
“We should take mental health seriously,” said Singh, asking why the alleged gunman Hole slipped out of sight when the FBI let him go over a year ago after a previously reported incident involving a gun in Hole’s possession that was not returned and not used in this shoot.
Singh also asked if FedEx had any prior information or complaints about Hole’s behavior and raised concerns about the safety offered at this FedEx facility when over 80 percent of its employees are Sikh.
“There was a security issue and needs to be investigated,” said Singh.
(L to R up)) Amarjit Kaur Sekhon, Jaswinder Kaur. Amarjeet Kaur, Jaswinder Singh. (L to R below).
According to the FBI and law enforcement officers, no motive for the deadly shootings has yet to be determined.
“We don’t know and we don’t say it’s hatred of Sikhs, but it could be hatred of Sikhs. Immigrants or employees, ”said Singh, but it definitely hated that this led to the killings.
KP Singh, a community leader and professional design architect who has lived in Indianapolis for decades, said the Sikh community is grieving in shock and believes that some places are fearful where people should feel safe, including places of worship and workplaces, and schools .
“So it’s a double, triple shock because they weren’t in a bad place or a bad neighborhood,” said Singh.
Singh continued to share news of a meeting between White House officials and the Sikh coalition.
Singh went on to explain that the Fed Ex facility is a very popular place to work near cities with a high concentration of Sikh populations, with most living in Hendricks and Marion counties, and staff even sharing trips to the site.
“We know that it relies on a person you know and a sense of friendship, a sense of camaraderie and a sense of comfort,” said Singh.
There are currently more than 500,000 Sikh Americans living in the United States, according to the Sikh Coalition. Sikhs have been an integral part of American fabric for more than 125 years.
Although Sikhs settled in Indiana more than 50 years ago, the first Gurdwara Sikh church was established for the first time in 1999. In the past two decades, the Sikh population in the Indianapolis area has seen significant growth. Today there are 10 Gurdwaras across the state and an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 Sikh Americans who have made Indiana their home.