The FBI and local authorities are continuing to search for a motive after a gunman killed eight people and injured several at a FedEx warehouse in Indianapolis, in the latest of a string of mass shootings to rock the US.
Authorities identified the gunman as 19-year-old Brandon Scott Hole of Indiana.
At a news conference, Craig McCartt, deputy police chief of Indianapolis, said Hole was a former employee who last worked for FedEx in 2020. McCartt said he did not know why Hole had left or if he had ties to workers in the facility.
Coroners released the names of the victims late Friday. Four of them were members of Indianapolis’s Sikh community, another blow to the Asian American community a month after six people of Asian descent were killed in a mass shooting in the Atlanta area, and amid ongoing attacks against Asian Americans throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
The Marion county coroner’s office identified the dead as Matthew R Alexander, 32; Samaria Blackwell, 19; Amarjeet Johal, 66; Jasvinder Kaur, 64; Jaswinder Singh, 68; Amarjit Skhon, 48; Karlie Smith, 19; and John Weisert, 74.
“We are deeply saddened to learn that Sikh community members are among those injured and killed by the gunman in Indianapolis last night,” Satjeet Kaur, executive director of the Sikh Coalition, said in a statement.
“Our hearts and prayers are with their families, and we are in touch with community leaders, government and law enforcement officials to learn more. While we don’t yet know the motive or identity of the shooter, we expect that authorities will continue to conduct a full investigation – including the possibility of bias as a factor.”
It emerged on Friday that the gunman had been interviewed by FBI agents last year, after his mother called police to say that her son might commit “suicide by cop”, the bureau said Friday.
Special agent Paul Keenan of the FBI said on Friday “it would be premature to speculate” on the suspect’s motivation. An Indianapolis home connected with the shooting was being searched, police said.
“This suspect came to the facility, and when he came there he got out of his car and pretty quickly started some random shooting outside of the facility,” said McCartt.
“There was no confrontation, there was no disturbance, there was no argument, he just appeared to randomly start shooting … that started in the parking lot and then into the facility.”
McCartt said the fatalities and injuries had occurred in a few minutes. Five people were hospitalized, according to police. Another two people were treated and released at the scene.
A witness said he was working inside the building when he heard several shots in rapid succession.
“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,” Levi Miller told WTHR-TV. “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.”
It was the third mass shooting in Indianapolis this year, and the latest in a string of attacks across the US. After a significant drop in mass shootings during a pandemic-hit 2020, the Gun Violence Archive said 147 mass shootings had occurred in 2021. Its definition of mass shooting is a minimum of four gunshot victims.
“This morning, for the third time, since January our community woke up to news of a senseless crime that will not soon leave our memory,” Taylor, the Indianapolis police chief, lamented.
Five people including a pregnant woman were shot and killed in January, and a man was accused of killing three adults and a child before abducting his daughter during an argument at a home in March.
The Indianapolis mayor, Joe Hogsett, called the FedEx shooting part of a “cycle of violence” attributable to “readily accessible guns”. Before the shooting, Hogsett was one of more than 150 mayors who signed a letter calling on the US Senate to strengthen gun control laws.
“Beyond the need for comfort for the grieving, we must guard against resignation or even despair – the assumption that this is simply how it must be and that we might as well get used to it,” said Hogsett. “We need the courage that compels courageous acts that push past weariness.”
Joe Biden last week announced a half-dozen executive actions to combat an “epidemic and an international embarrassment” of gun violence, but said much more was needed.
“Last night and into the morning in Indianapolis, yet again families had to wait to hear word about the fate of their loved ones,” the president said in a statement on Friday.
“What a cruel wait and fate that has become too normal and happens every day somewhere in our nation. Gun violence is an epidemic in America. But we should not accept it. We must act.”
FedEx said: “We are aware of the tragic shooting at our FedEx Ground facility near the Indianapolis airport. Safety is our top priority, and our thoughts are with all those who are affected. We are working to gather more information and are cooperating with investigating authorities.”
The Associated Press contributed reporting
In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is at 800-273-8255 and online chat is also available. You can also text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis text line counselor. In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org