He appeared in the parking lot after dark — a hooded figure with a gun who immediately began spraying bullets in every direction.
He stepped into the FedEx warehouse, a place where he had once worked, and continued shooting, “firing into the open,” according to one witness.
He shouted unintelligibly as he fired off round after round, and then, before the police could even arrive, he had killed himself, leaving in his wake eight dead and at least seven wounded.
On Thursday night, in a terrifyingly quick spasm of violence, Indianapolis faced its third mass shooting since the start of the year. And a nation already weary from a pandemic grappled with yet another bloody rampage, only weeks after back-to-back mass shootings last month at spas in the Atlanta area and at a grocery store in Boulder, Colo.
“It is a national embarrassment, what’s going on,” President Biden said in a news conference on Friday, as he repeated his support for a ban on assault weapons. “And it’s not only these mass shootings that are occurring. Every single day, every single day, there’s a mass shooting in the United States if you count all those who are killed out on the streets of our cities and our rural areas. It’s a national embarrassment and must come to an end.”
The mayor of Indianapolis, Joe Hogsett, told reporters of the “scourge of gun violence that has killed far too many” in his city and in the country as a whole.
Witnesses described sudden chaos and ducking for cover as a man with a rifle appeared at the entrance shouting and firing.
Kamal Jawandha, whose parents were sorters who had been working at the facility on Thursday night, said his mother hid in the bathroom during the rampage. When the shooting was over, his parents saw one of the victims, a person whom they knew, lying dead on the floor.
“She’s in deep sadness,” Mr. Jawandha said of his mother. “She just can’t stop shaking. She can’t believe this kind of thing would happen here.”
In March of 2020, the mother of Brandon Hole, 19, contacted the authorities to tell them that he was having suicidal thoughts. At the time, law enforcement officials seized a shotgun that he possessed, records show.
Less than a year later, the authorities say, Mr. Hole fatally shot eight people at a FedEx facility, raising questions about how he obtained another gun.
Many questions remain unanswered, and the police in Indianapolis have offered few details about the weapon Mr. Hole used or exactly what came of his mother’s warning to officials a year before the attack.
It remains uncertain whether prosecutors used Indiana’s so-called “red flag” law in Mr. Hole’s case.
Red flag laws, which moved to the center of the national conversation about gun regulation after a massacre at a Florida high school in 2018, allow law enforcement officials to temporarily take guns from people who are deemed dangerous by a judge.
Indiana’s law, which is named for Timothy “Jake” Laird, a police officer who was shot in the line of duty in 2004, is one of the oldest such statutes in the country.
Under the law, a person is considered dangerous if he “presents an imminent risk” to himself or others, or if he fits certain other criteria, including unmedicated mental illness or a documented propensity for violence.
The seizure of weapons under these laws is often temporary. In Indiana, once a weapon is taken by the police, prosecutors have 14 days to justify the seizure to a judge. If the judge decides the person is so unstable they should not be permitted to have guns, the seizure stands. If the judge rules otherwise, the firearms are returned.
Even if a judge decides that someone should not be allowed to possess firearms, that determination only lasts for a year. After that, prosecutors must either again prove that the person is unfit to possess firearms, or the ruling is lifted.
The police have not said how Mr. Hole obtained an assault rifle he used in the shooting at the FedEx facility on Thursday night, nor have they said whether an official petition under the red flag law was ever sought by prosecutors after his earlier interaction with the authorities. If such a petition was approved by a judge, it would have forbidden Mr. Hole from owning, possessing, or renting a firearm for at least a year, unless he convinced a judge to return it.
But officials have said that they seized the shotgun from Mr. Hole last March, after his mother reported that he might try to commit “suicide by cop,” according to Paul Keenan, the special agent in charge of the F.B.I.’s Indianapolis office.
At that time, Mr. Hole, was taken to a local hospital for evaluation, according to a police report obtained by the Indianapolis Star. The shotgun seized by officials at that time had been purchased by Mr. Hole just 24 hours earlier, the report indicates. According to Mr. Keenan, the shotgun was never returned.
Neither the police nor the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office have responded to questions about whether they pursued a red flag ruling against Mr. Hole.
If that ruling had come down, the ban on gun possession likely would have expired last month, and the authorities would have had to return to court to prove that Mr. Hole was still dangerous. Even if a red-flag law applied in this case, and Mr. Hole were barred from buying a gun from a licensed gun dealer, said Vop Osili, the president of the Indianapolis City Council, he still could have bought a gun from an unlicensed dealer, “no questions asked.”
Mr. Osili said local officials are at the mercy of state and federal lawmakers when it comes to either passing new gun laws or plugging the loopholes in existing ones. “Our hands are tied,” he added. “We are left in a reactive mode rather than a proactive mode.”
Outside a church on the west side of Indianapolis Saturday afternoon, families bound together by shared loss gathered to remember the victims of gun violence.
They spoke of their own family members and honored the memory of the eight people killed this week in a mass shooting at a FedEx facility in the city.
“We want people to know that we’re here for the community and that we’re here for those who have experienced a loved one affected by gun violence,” said DeAndra Dycus, the founder of Purpose For My Pain, a group that brings together those affected by gun violence. She said her son is paralyzed after a shooting in 2014.
Speakers demanded action from state and local politicians.
“You’re now thinking when is the next shooting going to happen because we don’t have stricter gun control, and we feel nothing will ever happen,” said Kendra Ford, whose son, Braxton Ford, died in 2020.
Ryan Mears, the local county prosecutor, described those assembled as trying to improve the community. “Hopefully it will inspire other people to continue to help them make a difference in their community,” he said.
The vigil, held outside the Olivet Missionary Baptist Church, was among several planned in the wake of Thursday’s shooting.
A candlelight vigil was planned for Saturday evening at a west side park in Indianapolis. On Sunday afternoon, residents said they would honor the victims of the FedEx shooting as well as Daunte Wright, the 20-year-old man killed by a police officer in the suburbs of Minneapolis last week. And on Sunday evening, a prayer vigil was scheduled outside city hall in nearby Beech Grove, Ind.
The names of the eight victims in the Indianapolis shooting have been released. Here is what we know about them so far.
Matthew Alexander, 32, was an enthusiastic sports fan who enjoyed driving around the Midwest attending baseball and hockey games and collecting baseball cards and bobbleheads.
Above all, he was a devoted friend, said Ryan Sheets, who had known him since childhood.
Every time they saw each other, Mr. Alexander handed Mr. Sheets a stack of baseball cards that he had set aside just for him. They always contained Mr. Sheets’ favorite players. Once, when Mr. Sheets was moving from Florida to Indianapolis, Mr. Alexander flew south to help him pack up his apartment and make the drive back with him.
“Matt was someone who was the perfect friend,” Mr. Sheets said. “Not a jealous bone in his body. He was generous.”
Mr. Alexander had worked at the FedEx facility for about a decade, Mr. Sheets said. He had recently bought a new home in Avon, an Indianapolis suburb and was “extremely content” with the way his life was going.
Mr. Alexander was a stellar baseball player at Avon High School and later played in a backyard baseball league, Mr. Sheets said. On Saturday, the high school baseball team honored him with a moment of silence before their game began. Mr. Alexander’s father threw out the ceremonial first pitch, and several of his former teammates gathered on the field, Mr. Sheets said.
“It was a really nice moment for his family,” Mr. Sheets said. “Usually the friends that you make when you’re 15, you don’t keep forever. But we did.”
Samaria Blackwell, 19, was the youngest of four siblings. She played soccer and basketball and was a lifeguard for the city parks.
“We were we were blessed by the Lord to have such a fun-loving, caring daughter as the baby of our family,” her parents, Jeff and Tammi Blackwell, said in a statement provided by a family friend.
The Blackwells described Samaria as tenacious in everything she did and said she dreamed of becoming a police officer.
She also enjoyed spending time with older people.
“She always found time to invest in the older generation, whether it was by listening or serving,” her parents said.
Amarjeet Kaur Johal
On Thursday night, Amarjeet Kaur Johal’s family was awaiting her to return from her late shift at the FedEx facility so they could cut a cake to celebrate her granddaughter’s birthday at midnight. She didn’t make it home.
“She was working a half shift that day so she could come home earlier, said Harmandeep Sidhu, 23, one of her grandsons. “She wrapped up her meal break sooner than the others she was car-pooling with. She told them she was going to warm up the car and wait for them outside.”
Now Ms. Johal’s family imagines scenarios that might have saved her life. “We keep thinking maybe she should have been working a full shift; that way she would have been further inside the facility, away from the range of the shooter,” said Komal Chohan, 25, a granddaughter.
“Maybe she could have eaten just one more roti and stayed inside,” Mr. Sidhu said.
Ms. Johal, 66, had moved to the United States to be closer to her children and their families during a wave of migration of Sikhs to North America after anti-Sikh riots of 1984 in India.
Four years ago, she decided to get a job at FedEx. “We all told her there was no need for her to work,” Ms. Chohan said. “She could stay home and live leisurely, spending time with her grandchildren. But she wanted something of her own. She wanted to work and she was great at her job.”
Ms. Johal enjoyed watching Indian TV soap operas and visiting her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, often showering them with presents. She was known for her bean dip, which she made for all family gatherings. On weekends, she prayed at the Gurdwara Sahib of Indianapolis, Ms. Chohan said.
“We’re still in disbelief,” Ms. Chohan said. “We keep imagining her coming home and saying ‘Haha! Gotcha!’ Instead we’re left with this horrific tragedy.”
Ms. Kaur was supposed to make her renowned yogurt at a large family celebration for her granddaughter’s second birthday on Saturday, according to a relative, Rimpi Girn. Ms. Kaur is the mother of Ms. Girn’s sister-in-law.
“And today we’re gathering to plan a funeral,” she said.
At a Sunday gathering, Ms. Kaur had asked Ms. Girn to help her get a driver’s license since she was traveling to her night shifts at FedEx with Ms. Sekhon.
“No more license for her,” she said. “That’s it. It was just talk. She doesn’t need a license for anything now.”
The authorities said Ms. Kaur was 64. Her family said she was 50.
Ms. Sekhon moved to Indiana from Ohio to be closer to family. She leaves behind two sons, ages 14 and 19, according to Rimpi Girn, a niece.
She began working at FedEx about six months ago on an overnight shift from 11 p.m. to 11 a.m.
Ms. Girn said she had struggled to explain the loss to Ms. Sekhon’s youngest son.
“We can’t even think of what to tell him,” Ms. Girn said. “All of a sudden last night his mom went to work, and she never came back today.”
Jigna Shah, a family friend, described Ms. Sekhon as a kind soul who was very close to her family members. They met about nine years ago through temple, and their families loved spending time together, Ms. Shah said. On the weekends, they attended temple, prayed together and cooked lentils, sweets and other foods side by side.
“It was always joy to be with them,” Ms. Shah, 47, said of Ms. Sekhon’s family.
“She was a very sweet person,” Ms. Shah said. “She was like an aunt to our family.”
Officials said Ms. Sekhon’s age was 48. Her family said it was 49.
Mr. Singh had just started working at the FedEx facility this week and told everyone how excited he was to get his first paycheck, according to Harjap Singh Dillon, whose sister was married to one of Mr. Singh’s sons. He was working the night shift sorting mail.
“He was going to get his first check,” Mr. Dillon said. “He didn’t get it.”
Mr. Singh lived with his son in the Indianapolis suburb of Homecoming, near their local temple. He was active doing community service with his temple, Mr. Dillon said. Mr. Singh had lived in California before moving to Indiana, he said.
“We are a very close family,” Mr. Dillon said.
The authorities said Mr. Singh was 68, while his family said he was 70.
“He was a simple man,” Mr. Dillon said. “He used to pray and meditate a lot, and he did community service.”
Karli Smith, 19, loved music and sports and had graduated from high school just last year.
Her older brother, Brandon Smith, described her as bubbly and outgoing. “She was the kind of girl that if she saw someone having a bad day, she’d go out of her way to make them smile,” he said. “She made a lot of people happy.”
Ms. Smith was born in Indianapolis and had spent most of her life in the city.
At Crispus Attucks High School, she was a talented member of the softball team. “Sometimes she was a catcher, but they’d put her in center field or third base because she was tall,” her brother said.
The siblings shared a musical connection. “Music was our thing,” he said. “We would sit and listen to music together. All kinds. She was younger, so we listened to a lot of hip-hop.”
Ms. Smith had only recently started working at the FedEx, said her mother, Karen Smith. She was working on getting her driver’s license and her own car, and was set to begin community college classes in the fall.
“She was just working on being a better person and making me proud,” her mother said.
Ms. Smith had several siblings and lived at home with some of them and with her mother. The family ate dinner together every night.
“We were close,” her mother said through tears. “I don’t know how to tell the world how amazing she was.”
Well-groomed and punctual, Mr. Weisert had been an Air Force officer during the Vietnam era, according to his son, Mike Weisert. He then had an itinerant career as a mechanical engineer, working across the country for companies such as Pratt & Whitney and Brown & Root, and traveling to Kuwait for a job in the mid-2000s, Mike Weisert said.
But Mr. Weisert, who was 74, had also been the victim of downsizing, his son said.
About four years ago, he took a job as a part-time package handler at FedEx, working the evening shift “to make ends meet,” his son said. Recently, his wife of nearly 50 years, Mary Carol Weisert, had been pressuring him to retire, and Mr. Weisert had talked about leaving the job next month or taking the summer off, Mike Weisert said.
“She didn’t like him being over 74 years old and getting to be as weak as he was,” Mike Weisert said. “He was hunched and arched over with his back. The job was killing him by inches, slowly. His career had been winding down and some of us were worried.”
Mike Weisert remembered his father as “somewhat of an introvert,” who had “kind of a goofy, cornball sense of humor about him.”
He liked to play country and western and bluegrass music on guitar and watch wrestling on TV. He also loved action movies and classic films. “Lawrence of Arabia” was a particular favorite.
In addition to his son, he also had a daughter, Lisa, who lives in Seattle.
“He was a very decent, kind man, very dedicated to protecting and providing for the ones he loved,” Mike Weisert said.
The family of the gunman in the mass shooting at an Indianapolis FedEx facility issued an apology on Saturday to the victims and their families.
“We are devastated at the loss of life caused as a result of Brandon’s actions; through the love of his family, we tried to get him the help he needed,” the family of the man the authorities have said was behind the attack, Brandon Scott Hole, said in a written statement. “Our sincerest and most heartfelt apologies go out to the victims of this senseless tragedy. We are so sorry for the pain and hurt being felt by their families and the entire Indianapolis community.”
Mr. Hole, 19, was identified by law enforcement authorities as the person who opened fire at the FedEx facility, killing eight people and wounding several others. In 2020, Mr. Hole had been reported to the police by his mother, who warned last year that he might attempt “suicide by cop,” officials said. At that time, a shotgun had been seized by the authorities.
Mr. Hole was armed with a rifle during the attack at FedEx and later killed himself, officials said.
At least four of the eight victims of the Thursday night shooting were part of the local Sikh community, many of them drawn to the Indianapolis area to take jobs at places like the FedEx warehouse that was attacked.
The warehouse employed many Sikhs, and on Friday, relatives confirmed the deaths of Jasvinder Kaur, 50; Amarjit Sekhon, 49; Jaswinder Singh, 70; and Amarjeet Johal, 66.
In a statement from the Sikh Coalition, a granddaughter of Ms. Johal’s, Komal Chohan, said that she had several family members who worked at the warehouse and that she was heartbroken about “the senseless shooting.”
“My nani, my family and our families should not feel unsafe at work, at their place of worship, or anywhere,” she said. “Enough is enough — our community has been through enough trauma.”
Although the motive of the gunman is unknown, local leaders said his actions generated fear similar to what many Sikhs felt after the Sept. 11 attacks, when they were confused for Muslims, and after a 2012 rampage by a white supremacist, who killed six people at a gurdwara, or Sikh temple, in Oak Creek, Wis.
“We don’t know whether this was targeted or a coincidence,” said Dr. Sukhwinder Singh, 29, a leader at his gurdwara southeast of Indianapolis. “We are all so numb. This is something that will take weeks to process.”
The Sikh community in Indianapolis has grown in recent years. The Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis, a large gurdwara, was built about 20 years ago, and has grown from about 50 families to about 1,000 members, according to the Center for Faith and Vocation at Butler University.
The community is known for its long history of service, supporting victims of natural disasters and, during the coronavirus pandemic, organizing food drives and grocery delivery for older people. An annual Sikh day parade started in Indianapolis about six years ago.
The Sikh temples in the Indianapolis area, Dr. Singh said, will hold special prayer services for mourning and discuss whether they need to take any action to protect community members.
The exact size of the Sikh population in the United States is hard to determine, but estimates suggest that there are several hundred thousand members. According to the Sikh Coalition, about 10,000 Sikh Americans have made Indiana their home over the past 50 years.
Kanwal Prakash Singh was one of the first to arrive, moving to Indianapolis in 1967. Over the decades, he worked for the local government, built a business, served on the police merit board and watched the area’s Sikh population grow by the thousands.
Sikhs had come to feel at home in Indiana, he said. But over the years, there were difficult times, especially after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“No matter where you went, somebody yelled at you ‘Osama bin Laden’ or somebody yelled at you ‘Go home,’” Mr. Singh said.
Still, the community continued to grow, with many Sikhs moving to the Midwest from the coasts. Some became doctors or police officers, while many others worked in trucking or transportation or operated gas stations.
They raised families, attended temple, worked hard.
Then on Friday morning, just after 6 a.m., the police called Mr. Singh.
“The shock wave went through the entire Sikh community,” he said.
The 19-year-old gunman who opened fire at a FedEx warehouse in Indianapolis late Thursday, killing eight people, was previously reported to law enforcement by his mother, who warned them last year that her son might attempt “suicide by cop,” officials said.
The news of the gunman’s previous encounter with law enforcement — including the seizure of a shotgun from him last year — punctuated a day of suspense and grief on Friday.
Law enforcement officials identified the suspect as Brandon Scott Hole, a former employee of the company. Mr. Hole was armed with a rifle during the attack and later killed himself, officials said.
Paul Keenan, special agent in charge of the F.B.I. field office in Indianapolis, said Mr. Hole had been interviewed by federal agents in April of last year. After the teenager’s mother reported him to law enforcement in March 2020, the authorities opened an investigation and put him on an “immediate detention mental health temporary hold,” Mr. Keenan said in a statement.
The shotgun was not returned, but he was not charged with a crime.
The man who opened fire at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis late Thursday, fatally shooting eight people and injuring at least seven others, was a former employee at the facility, a spokesman for FedEx said.
Mass shootings in American workplaces are not a new phenomenon, said James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University. In one of the most notorious examples, a mail carrier in trouble with his supervisors opened fire in a crowded post office in Oklahoma, killing 14 workers and injuring seven others before killing himself. The violent attack in 1986 spawned the phrase “going postal.”
“Mass shooters have a grievance, a grudge, and they’re looking for payback,” Dr. Fox said. “Oftentimes that grudge has to do with employment.”
Brandon Scott Hole, whom law enforcement authorities have identified as the Indianapolis gunman, last worked at the FedEx facility in 2020, according to Deputy Chief Craig McCartt of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. The chief said he believed that Mr. Hole had worked there until the fall, but he did not know why his employment ended.
In past workplace shootings, many of the perpetrators — employees or former employees — considered themselves victims of injustice who were “trying to right a wrong,” Dr. Fox said.
Their co-workers were targeted because of their association with the company, said Dr. Fox, who is an author of a mass killing database maintained by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University. According to the database, there were 14 workplace shootings — those carried out by an aggrieved employee — out of 357 total mass shootings since 2006, before this week’s shooting in Indianapolis.
“In most indiscriminate shootings there’s still a reason why the person chose that place or those people,” he said.
Last year, a 51-year-old gunman opened fire in a Milwaukee brewery where he worked, killing five of his co-workers. The victims worked as machinists, electricians and powerhouse operators at Molson Coors.
The gunman, a Milwaukee man, was wearing his company uniform as he carried out the shooting. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the police said. Other employees said he had been involved in a feud with another employee.
The year before, at a suburban Chicago factory about 115 miles from the Milwaukee crime scene, a disgruntled employee who had been fired from his job killed five other workers.
One of the deadliest workplace shootings occurred in May 2019 in Virginia Beach, when a longtime public utilities employee who quit his job began firing indiscriminately at his co-workers with a handgun, the authorities said, killing 12 people and injuring several others before dying after an extended shootout with the police.
In 2015, a man in San Bernardino, Calif., attended a holiday luncheon for employees of the county health department, where he worked as a health inspector, and left early. He and his wife returned, armed, and commenced a shooting rampage that killed 14 people and left 21 wounded.
Steam rose from a large steel bowl of potatoes as hands quickly worked at peeling off the skin in the kitchen of the Gurdwara Shri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, a Sikh temple outside Indianapolis. Outside, five red rugs lined the linoleum floor. Women dressed in colorful salwar kameez with scarves over their heads ate in silence amid the sounds of prayer on Saturday morning.
This is the Sikh practice of the langar, a free meal offered to anyone and everyone who visits.
“It is rooted in our belief that everyone is equal, irrespective of religion, race, class or creed,” said Kulwinder Singh, 50, as he cut the freshly peeled potatoes. “Do not call this work. It is a privilege to serve the community — and we’re not just talking about Sikhs.”
Jaswinder Singh, 68, one of the victims killed in the shooting at the FedEx facility on Thursday night, also served at this community kitchen,
cutting vegetables, mopping floors, and serving people seated in line during rush hour.
“We gave him tasks that were less demanding physically because of his age,” said the chairman of the gurdwara, whose name is also Jaswinder Singh. (The two men were not related.)
A resident of Homecoming, a suburb in Indianapolis, Mr. Singh lived less than a mile away from the temple. He was deeply religious and would come by daily, the chairman said.
“Before last week, it was any time of day that you could expect to see him,” the chairman said. “But then he started the job at FedEx last week, which he was so excited for, so he would come in before his shift.” The night he was shot, he was collecting his first paycheck at the facility.
Two days before the shooting, Sikhs around the world celebrated Vaisakhi, the Sikh New Year and a commemoration of the founding of the religion. Now, even amid their grief, Sikhs in Indianapolis are continuing to offer langar.
“We don’t believe we were especially targeted as a community in this shooting,” said Santokh Singh, 62, who was also at the gurdwara Saturday. “There have been several mass shootings over the last few years and especially since the start of this year. It is a disease plaguing the country right now, and this happened here to so many Sikhs because there are so many of us in this area.”
The mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis that left eight people dead on Thursday was the third such event in the city this year.
At a news conference on Friday, Chief Randal Taylor of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department called the toll “unacceptable.”
Joe Hogsett, the mayor of Indianapolis, urged residents not to be desensitized by the devastation.
“We must guard against resignation or even despair, the assumption that this is how it simply must be and that we might as well get used to it,” Mr. Hogsett said.
A mass shooting is defined by the Gun Violence Archive as one with four or more people injured or killed, not including the perpetrator. The two others earlier this year occurred inside homes and included smaller death tolls.
The first incident occurred on Jan. 24, when authorities responded to the scene of a domestic dispute that involved a father and son arguing over staying out too late, according to The Indianapolis Star. When the police entered the home, they found five victims with gunshot wounds who were pronounced dead on the scene, authorities said. One of the victims, a pregnant woman, also lost her unborn child.
The victims included Kezzie Childs, 42; Raymond Childs, 42; Elijah Childs, 18; Rita Childs, 13; and Kiara Hawkins, 19, according to police.
The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office charged Raymond Childs III, 17, with six counts of murder. Mr. Childs is the son of Kezzie and Raymond Childs and the brother of Elijah and Rita Childs, The Indianapolis Star reported.
Almost two months later, on March 13, authorities were directed by a victim of a gunshot wound to a residence where four people were found fatally shot, according to Indianapolis Police.
The victims were identified by police as Eve Moore, 7; Daquan Moore, 23; Anthony Johnson, 35; and Tomeeka Brown, 44.