Police in Indianapolis have identified the eight people gunned down at a FedEx facility on Thursday night as disturbing new details emerged about the alleged gunman’s past.
According to a statement from the Indianapolis Metro Police Department, the victims included 32-year-old Matthew R Alexander, 19-year-old Samaria Blackwell, 66-year-old Amarjeet Johal, 64-year-old Jaswinder Kaur, 68-year-old Jaswinder Singh, 48-year-old Amarjit Skhon, 19-year-old Karlie Smith, and 74-year-old John Weisert.
Four of those killed were identified as members of the local Sikh community. “Out of eight, four are Sikh community members,” businessman Gurinder Singh Khalsa, who said he was a leader of the religious community, told Reuters.
Details about the victims came out as federal authorities revealed that the FBI had seized a shotgun from the home of the accused shooter, Brandon Scott Hole, after his mom had called authorities to warn them he might try to commit “suicide by cop.” That seizure happened more than a year before Hole opened fire at the FedEx facility.
On Thursday night, the 19-year-old—who worked at the FedEx Ground-Plainfield Operation until 2020—got out of his car in the parking lot around 11 p.m. local time and “pretty quickly started some random shooting” in the parking lot with a rifle, gunning down four people before going inside the warehouse, where he fatally shot four more, police said.
Deputy Chief Craig McCartt said the massacre “did not last very long”—only a couple of minutes—and he noted there was “no confrontation, there was no disturbance. He just randomly started shooting.” Hole had already killed himself by the time officers arrived at the “chaotic and active” crime scene, he added.
The FBI revealed Friday the teenager’s mom had contacted them last March about his suicidal thoughts, and he was placed “on an immediate detention mental health temporary hold by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.” They also seized a shotgun at his home.
“Based on items observed in the suspect’s bedroom at that time, he was interviewed by the FBI in April 2020. No Racially Motivated Violent Extremism (RMVE) ideology was identified during the course of the assessment and no criminal violation was found. The shotgun was not returned to the suspect,” the FBI added in a statement.
A police report from the incident first obtained by WTHR said he’d purchased the shotgun in the last 24 hours.
Multiple outlets reported that authorities were searching a home in Indianapolis associated with Hole on Friday. McCartt also said Friday that IMPD encountered Hole in 2013, but declined to provide details.
During a Friday press conference, law-enforcement officials said they have not yet established a motive. A spokesman for FedEx confirmed to The Daily Beast that “the perpetrator was a former employee at the facility,” but declined to provide a name or any other details about his time at the company.
Five people were transported to local hospitals, including four with gunshot wounds. Two more victims were treated at the scene and released, police said. Police said Friday they are still working to identify the victims.
Survivor Levi Miller told WTHR that he was inside the building—where about 100 people were working—when he heard gunshots and stood up to see what was happening.
“I see a man come out with a rifle in his hand and he starts firing and he starts yelling stuff that I could not understand,” Miller said. “What I ended up doing was ducking down to make sure he did not see me because I thought he would see me and he would shoot me.”
In an interview with NBC’s Today show, Miller also said he heard from co-workers that the suspected gunman was “a well-known worker at this facility.” “From what I do know, one of my known coworkers there have told me this is a well-known worker at this facility,” Miller said, adding that he did not recognize the man himself.
“It’s very heartbreaking,” said Cook. “The officers responded. They came in. They went in, and they did their job. And a lot of them are trying to face this because this is a sight that no one should ever have to see.”
No law-enforcement officers were among those killed or injured. The Marion County Coroner’s Office told The Daily Beast that they will release the names of the dead as soon as their relatives have been notified.
“What we are left with this morning is grief. Grief for the families of those killed, for those who have lost their coworkers, and grief for the many Americans who struggle to understand how [crimes] like this occur again and again,” Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said during a Friday press conference. “Indianapolis is a resilient community. Last night was a devastating blow...but in times of despair, I know that our residents will rally together and help one another make it through.”
The Indianapolis murders cap a string of high-profile mass shootings across the country—among them a rampage targeting Asian spas that left eight people dead in the Atlanta area, an attack on a supermarket in Colorado that killed 10, and a mass murder-suicide by a former NFL player in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
Employees who were inside the building when the gunfire broke out at the FedEx facility told WISH-TV that they initially thought a car was backfiring, but then saw the gunman stalking the facility and shooting at their colleagues.
“Thank God for being here because I thought I was going to get shot,” FedEx worker Jeremiah Miller told the CNN affiliate. “I saw a man with a submachine gun of some sort, an automatic rifle, and he was firing in the open. I immediately ducked down and got scared and my friend’s mother, she came in and told us to get inside the car.”
Miller’s colleague, Timothy Boillat, said he saw a dead body on the ground.
Family members of FedEx workers have been gathering at a nearby Holiday Inn Express lobby through the night to find out whether their loved ones survived.
“I’m just worried about my father,” Ashlee Floyd told the Indianapolis Star. “I don’t know if he’s OK. I don’t know if he’s injured. I don’t know if he’s gone. I’m just scared right now.”
CBS4 reporter Darius Johnson posted emotional footage of family members breaking down in tears of relief after being told by police that their loved ones were accounted for after the shooting.
Some relatives have complained that they haven’t been able to reach their family members due to a company policy barring workers from carrying their personal phones on the job. McCartt confirmed that many of the employees didn’t have their cellphones on them when the gunfire began, which has frustrated the overnight reunification attempts.
Frederick Smith, the CEO and Chairman of FedEx, released a statement Friday calling the mass shooting a “senseless act of violence.”
“I want to express my deepest sympathies to the families, friends, and co-workers of those team members. Our priority right now is in responding to the situation on the ground and helping our team members and law enforcement,” Smith said.
Indianapolis Police Chief Randal Taylor said Friday that he was informed that a large number of employees at the FedEx facility were Sikh. Satjeet Kaur, the executive director of the Sikh Coalition, said in a press release that “Sikh community members are among those injured and killed by the gunman in Indianapolis last night.”
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb also expressed his anger over Thursday’s shooting: “In times like this, words like justice and sorrow fall short in response for those senselessly taken. Our thoughts are with the families, friends, coworkers and all those affected by this terrible situation.“Today, I will order that flags be lower to half-staff from now until sunset on Tuesday, April 20 in remembrance of those we’ve lost.”
President Joe Biden is expected to be briefed on the shooting this morning, the White House confirmed it has contacted Indianapolis officials.