By Gurman Sidhu
Thursday, April 15, 19-year old Brandon Scott Hole carried out a mass shooting and killed eight workers at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana. The perpetrator, Brandon Hole, was an employee at this FedEx location from August 2020 to October 2020. The Deputy Chief of Criminal Investigations at the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Craig McCartt, reported finding Hole dead by a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Chief McCartt further disclosed that upon arrival at around 11 pm, officers found the shooter, active, and moving from the parking lot to inside the facility. Half of the victims were found outside, and the other half inside. Seven of the employees were injured but survived, five of them were inflicted with gunshot wounds, and two of them suffered from minor injuries.
Amongst the eight dead were Samaria Blackwell, 19; Karli Smith, 19; Matthew R Alexander, 32; Amarjit Sekhon, 48; Jaswinder Kaur, 64; Amarjeet Johal, 66; Jaswinder Singh, 68; and John Weisert, 74.
A little over a year ago, in March of 2020, the mother of Brandon Hole contacted law enforcement to express concerns about her son. She told them that she was concerned about Hole’s mental health and that he could be a risk to himself. She explicitly told them that he may even attempt suicide.
Law enforcement acted on these concerns by seizing a firearm found in Hole’s home. They also placed him on a temporary mental health hold. Due to specific items found in his bedroom, he was also interviewed by the FBI last April.
During the FBI investigation, they reported finding no racially motivated violent extremism. However, on Monday, the Indianapolis Police Department released reports from the search they conducted at Hole’s home last March, and one of their officers reported finding what appeared to be white supremacist websites on his computer.
Despite the mother’s concerns, the FBI investigation, and the gun found, Hole was not classified under the State of Indiana’s red flag law. The red flag law would have prevented him from possessing another firearm in the near future. Though they confiscated the shotgun they found in his home, Hole legally purchased two assault rifles just a few months later. These two assault rifles were the same ones he used in the attack at the FedEx facility.
The communities of those who have died in this incident have begun gathering across the nation.
Of the eight dead, four of them were members of the Sikh community. Such an attack increases the fears that American Sikhs have been living with for decades. A fear that has only been growing from being attacked for wearing turbans and other cultural clothes and being attacked in their house of worship.
During an interview with CNN, Satjeet Kaur, Executive Director of the Sikh Coalition, said that “It’s very difficult for our community not to feel targeted, especially given the violence that we’ve endured for decades.” She also said, “he targeted a facility known to be heavily populated by Sikh employees, and the attack is traumatic for our community as we continue to face senseless violence.”
The families of the victims have come forward and shared who each one of them was. Jaswinder Singh recently began working at the FedEx facility and used to go to the Gurdwara, the Sikh house of worship, every day. There he did Seva, selfless service, by making and serving food.
John Weisert was about to celebrate his 50th marriage anniversary this fall. He has been working at FedEx for over four years. He used to be a mechanical engineer and was thinking about retiring soon.
Amarjit Sekhon, who immigrated to the US in 2004, left behind two teenage sons. She recently moved to be closer to her family, and her family and friends describe her as a sweet person. They shared that she used to prepare lentils at the Gurdwara and served food to visitors.
Matthew R. Alexander, a graduate of Butler University, worked at FedEx for many years. He had just recently bought a new home in Indianapolis. His family and friends said he was a “perfect friend.”
Samaria Blackwell was a 19-year-old soccer player and wanted to become a police officer in the future. She was a “caring daughter,” her parents expressed. She also liked to spend her time serving the older generation.
Karli Smith, also 19-years-old, loved to play softball and listen to hip-hop music. She recently graduated from high school. Her loved ones said she always knew how to make someone smile.
Jaswinder Kaur, another victim of the attack, was looking forward to getting her license soon. She was also preparing to make her special yogurt for her granddaughter’s second birthday.
Amarjit Johal, a FedEx employee of about four years, was the matriarch of her family. She came to the United States decades ago so she could be closer to her kids and grandchildren. That night she was waiting to be picked up and go celebrate the birthday of a relative. Her granddaughter said that she didn’t need to work, but she preferred to do something on her own rather than stay at home.
Millions across the nation are grieving the loss of their loved ones. Communities are standing together helping each other through the pain and trauma this tragedy has caused. Though the shooting at the Indianapolis FedEx ground facility has not been classified as a hate crime, communities like the Sikh community are still feeling targeted. The shooter searched white supremacist websites last year.
Brandon Hole being able to purchase two assault rifles after a mental health hold and a gun being taken away is a clear flaw in the system, and the communities impacted are in pain, and still need justice.
Gurman Sidhu is a first-year Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior major at UC Davis from Union City, California.