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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Year in Review: Mass shooting at FedEx shakes community

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A mass shooting at an Indianapolis FedEx facility near the airport in April left nine people dead, including the shooter, and a community shaken.  

At roughly 11 p.m. April 15, Brandon Hole opened fire in his former workplace — where he had last worked in 2020 — before taking his own life. It was the city’s third mass shooting in 2021.

The 19-year-old’s mother alerted police in 2020 of her fears Hole would “commit suicide by cop.” 

Eight victims, who ranged in age from 19 to 74 and included four members of the Sikh community, were killed. 

• Matthew Alexander, 32, a Butler University graduate who loved golf 

• Samaria Blackwell, 19, a “kid who loved everybody” 

• Amarjeet Johal, 66, a grandmother and “an angel in every life she touched”  

• Jasvinder Kaur, 50, a grandmother of three who immigrated to the United States in 2018 

• Amarjit Sekhon, 48, a wife, mother of two and “backbone” of her family 

• Jawswinder Singh, 68, was getting his first paycheck in three decades the night of the shooting

• Karli Smith, 19, a basketball player at and graduate of Crispus Attucks High School. She started working at FedEx two weeks before the shooting. 

• John Weisert, 74, was a mechanical engineer before working at FedEx, and planned to travel with his wife Mary. 

In the following days, vigils were held at several locations throughout the city and state. 

“We’re hurting right now, but we’ll come back stronger than ever,” a member of the Sikh community told mourners during a vigil April 18 in Beech Grove. “But please remember when you go home tonight, pray and hold your families tight. There are families now who can’t do that anymore.” 

Through an attorney, Hole’s family issued a statement to the victims’ 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 statement read. “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.” 

Because Hole obtained the weapons used in the shooting legally, the incident sparked controversy about gun control legislation and Indiana’s red flag law. The law allows police to seize a person’s firearms if they are deemed a danger to themselves or others. Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears said a provision in the law allowed Hole — who had a shotgun taken from him after being questioned by police in 2020 — to carry out the attack.  

To bar an individual from obtaining future weapons under the red flag law, a prosecutor must seek a special hearing. Satisfied that Hole didn’t attempt to get his seized shotgun back, Mears opted not to seek a hearing, a move that created tension with Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police President Rick Snyder after the shooting. 

“The police took all steps available to them to ensure lawful intervention measures were completed for the safety of the individual at large and the community at large,” Snyder said April 22. “Subsequently, we have learned that the Marion County prosecutor failed to do his part by filing the necessary paperwork with the courts that would have triggered that his perceived shortcomings of the red flag law as the basis for his decision to not initiate court proceedings. … As a result of this missed opportunity, we now know the suspect was able to legally purchase firearms months later … that we believe were used in the attack.” 

Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848 or by email at breannac@indyrecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper. 

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