Indianapolis mass shooter Brandon Scott Hole, the 19-year-old who killed eight and injured several others at a FedEx facility last week, had a history of swimming through white-supremacist channels online.
The new details, while far from offering a coherent motive, come by way of police documents released by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and obtained by a local NBC affiliate late Monday.
As is now well known, the documents say that Hole’s mother reached out to Indianapolis police on March 3, 2020, after he bought a shotgun, which was later seized by police. Hole had seemed to express a desire to die by suicide by cop, and allegedly “struck his mother with a closed fist in the arm” and “told her to shut up,” prior to police getting involved. He was briefly committed for mental-health reasons, though he was not ultimately sent through the full “red flag” process, as prosecutors admitted Monday, which would have prevented him from purchasing the murder weapons—two rifles—just months later.
But what the new documents reveal for the first time is that Hole, who was a former employee at the FedEx facility, told police when they confronted him last March, “Please just turn the power strip off on my computer,” adding, “I don’t want anyone to see what’s on it.”
One possible reason for the teenager’s interest in privacy soon became clear: A cop involved in the apprehension of Hole that day “observed what through his training and experience indicated was white supremist [sic] websites,” the documents say.
The police documents do not go into further detail. The FBI interviewed last April and did not find evidence of “racially motivated violent extremist ideology,” according to law enforcement.
However, the Wall Street Journal reported that Hole appears to have been involved in the “Bronies” scene—a subculture fascinated with the animated kids’ series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic that weirdly has some overlap with far-right and white nationalist ideology. A Facebook memo assembled as the social-media giant took down two accounts tied to Hole last week uncovered his interest in the show, but it’s unclear if it was filtered through that kind of far-right lens.
In a Tuesday statement provided to The Daily Beast, the family of one of the FedEx victims, 66-year-old Amarjeet Kaur Johal, said they are “obviously disturbed... about the shooter’s motive and we believe it makes it all the more important that law enforcement authorities fully investigate the potential of bias.”
“As we have said, no one should feel unsafe at work, school, or their place of worship and law enforcement must do its due diligence,” the statement added. The family added that further questions about motives or possible biases be referred to the Sikh Coalition, a civil rights group.
The Marion County Coroner's Office has identified the other victims as Matthew R. Alexander, 32; Samaria Blackwell, 19; Jasvinder Kaur, 50; Jaswinder Singh, 68; Amarjit Sekhon, 48; Karli Smith, 19; and John Weisert, 74.
On Tuesday, Amrith Kaur Aakre, legal director of the Sikh Coalition, also responded to the police report about Hole’s possible white supremacist leanings. Writing to local police and the FBI, Aakre argued, “It is clear from IMPD’s prior interaction and experience with Mr. Hole, as well as specific facts we have elicited from witnesses and victims of the April 15th shooting, that Mr. Hole went to the FedEx facility with the intent of killing members of the Sikh community.”
“Given his prior white supremacist research and interest, there is no dismissing [the] fact that Mr. Hole’s methodically planned attack—during a shift change when there would be significantly more employees going in and out of the facility making them easily accessible—was carried out at a facility where he knew the vast majority of workers to be both Indian and Sikh,” she added, “at a time when violence against Sikh Americans and Asian-Americans in general has grown nationwide.”
The letter also specifically claimed that an eyewitness said Hole “told a white woman running towards him to get out of the way, just after having shot a Sikh man in the face.”
Victims of the Thursday shooting included several members of the Sikh community, who have been targeted by hate crimes in the past, including at a temple in Wisconsin in 2012, where six people were killed.
Initial accounts suggested Hole had showed up at the facility with two rifles and effectively started firing at random before quickly killing himself. But even as prosecutors face questions over how they might have used the red-flag law in the state more effectively, the prospect of possible extremist ideology factoring in added a disturbing element to the tragic aftermath.
—with reporting by Pilar Melendez