Indianapolis is mourning eight people killed at a FedEx sorting facility by a gunman who police said was a 19-year-old former employee who had a shotgun seized by authorities last year. Authorities said they are continuing to investigate what motivated the killer, who appeared to have fired his rifle at “random” in an attack that lasted no more than a couple of minutes late Thursday before turning the gun on himself.
Vigils are scheduled Saturday in Indianapolis for the eight victims, who were between the ages of 19 and 74. Authorities identified the victims late Friday 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. A family member gave a different age for Sekhon — 49 — and a different age and name spelling for Jasvinder Kaur, age 50.
Here are some significant developments
Police identified the gunman as Brandon Hole, who worked at FedEx until 2020 and was known by authorities long before the shooting. Last spring, after his mother reported her fears that he would attempt “suicide by cop,” he was questioned by authorities, and the police temporarily detained him for mental health reasons, FBI Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge Paul Keenan said.
At least four of those killed were members of the Sikh community in Indianapolis, according to the Sikh Coalition, a national advocacy group.
President Biden said that gun violence “stains our character and pierces the very soul of our nation” as he — yet again — ordered flags at the White House and other federal properties be lowered to half-staff.
The mass killing in Indianapolis was the latest in a grim litany that has left a trail of bloodstained sorrow across the country this spring. In the past five weeks, there have been six public mass shootings in the United States, including massacres at three Atlanta spas and a supermarket in Boulder, Colo. Together, the shootings have claimed 40 lives.
As vigils got underway in the city, family members are beginning to open up about the eight victims.
Amarjit Sekhon died where she worked tirelessly to provide for her family. She had been working at the FedEx facility since last November as the sole source of income for her sons, relatives said. She toiled long hours in part because her husband has been paralyzed from a disability from birth, said Kuldip Sekhon, her husband’s brother.
“She was a hard worker and always wanted to work and was always working overtime and asking for overtime shifts,” the brother-in-law told The Washington Post. “She liked to have a good house, have good cars.”
She moved to the United States in 2005, initially settling in Ohio and working for a bakery before relocating to Indianapolis several years ago to be closer to family, her brother-in-law said.
In Indiana, hers was one of several Sikh immigrant families living together in a large house. She worked at FedEx with Jaswinder Kaur, the mother of Kuldip Sekhon’s daughter-in-law, who also died in the shooting. Amarjit Sekhon leaves behind a 16-year-old son and a 22-year-old son.
Kuldip Sekhon said the family would rally to make sure the sons are financially supported. Another relative set up a GoFundMe page to cover funeral expenses and medical expenses for “affected families.”
Biden says he is still prioritizing gun control, police reform legislation
President Biden said he is still urging Congress to pass gun control legislation on April 16 following a mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis. (The Washington Post)
The political response to the shooting has intensified in the immediate aftermath of the attack in Indianapolis.
As President Biden called gun violence an “epidemic,” Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett (D) pushed for state leaders this week to “stop this cycle of violence that’s driven by readily accessible guns.” “I certainly intend to lead in that regard,” he said Friday.
On Saturday, Indianapolis City-County Council member Ali Brown (D) continued to call for state lawmakers to pass gun-violence legislation that would ban assault weapons.
Police said the gunman used a rifle, but did not specify the kind of firearm.
Brown told WISH that while she was still in “shock and disbelief,” she had also come to the realization that state leaders needed to act quickly following another mass shooting in the city.
“We’re all shook to our core and we all feel the need to have something change,” she said. “This country has a problem, and it was exhibited here in Indianapolis on Thursday night and pretty much every other day in Indianapolis.”
The call for increased legislation after the attack at the FedEx facility was felt throughout the Indiana State Fairgrounds. At the Indy 1500 Gun and Knife Show, people standing in line for the event expressed shock and sadness over the latest shooting, but most maintained that any new gun-violence laws in the wake of the massacre would be unfair.
Indianapolis resident David McCullough, 48, told WRTV he believes there should be no limits on gun ownership.
“I think crazy people will do crazy things and responsible people will be responsible,” he told the station. “You can’t judge a whole population upon one man’s actions.”
But some at the gun show, located about 20 miles from the site of Thursday’s shooting, supported stricter background checks. Lionel Crittenden, a 31-year-old resident of the city, said to WRTV that he wouldn’t oppose more background checks, blaming “illegal gun owners” for the mass shootings.