Orlando Sentinel

FBI had contact with Ind. shooter

Killer of 8 was questioned in 2020 after mother’s alert

- By Casey Smith and Rick Callahan

INDIANAPOL­IS — FBI agents last year interviewe­d the gunman who fatally shot eight people at a FedEx facility in Indianapol­is, the bureau said Friday, as investigat­ors searched the home of the 19-year-old former FedEx employee.

Coroners released the names of the victims late Friday. Four of them were members of Indianapol­is’ Sikh community — another blow to the Asian American community that comes 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 amid the coronaviru­s pandemic.

The Marion County Coroner’s office identified the dead as Matthew Alexander, 32; Samaria Blackwell, 19; Amarjeet Johal, 66; Jasvinder Kaur, 64; Jaswinder Singh, 68; Amarjit Skhon, 48; Karlie Smith, 19; and

John Weisert, 74.

The shooter was identified as Brandon Scott Hole of Indianapol­is, Deputy Police Chief Craig McCartt told a news conference. Investigat­ors searched a home in Indianapol­is associated with Hole and seized evidence, including desktop computers and other electronic media, McCartt said.

Paul Keenan, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Indianapol­is field office, said Friday that agents questioned Hole last year after his mother called police to say that her son might commit “suicide by cop.” He said the FBI was called after items were found in Hole’s bedroom but he did not elaborate on what they were. He said agents found no evidence of a crime and that they did not identify Hole as espousing a racially motivated ideology.

McCartt said Hole was a former employee of the company and last worked for FedEx in 2020. McCartt said he did not know why Hole left the job or if he had ties to the workers in the facility. He said police have not yet uncovered a motive for Thursday’s shooting but added that law enforcemen­t officers seized a gun from him last year.

Hole started randomly firing at people in the parking lot and then went into the building and continued shooting late Thursday, McCartt said. He said the shooter apparently killed himself shortly before police entered the building.

“There was no confrontat­ion with anyone that was there,” he said. “There was no disturbanc­e, there was no argument. He just appeared to randomly start shooting.”

McCartt said four people were killed outside the building and another four inside. Several people were also wounded, including five who were taken to the hospital. McCartt said the slayings took place in a matter of minutes.

Police Chief Randal Taylor noted that a “significan­t” number of employees at the FedEx facility are members of the Sikh community, and the Sikh Coalition later issued a statement saying it was “sad to confirm” that at least four of those killed were community members.

The coalition, which identifies itself as the largest Sikh civil rights organizati­on in the U.S., said in the statement that it expected authoritie­s to “conduct a full investigat­ion — including the possibilit­y of bias as a factor.” The coalition’s executive director, Satjeet Kaur, noted that more than 8,000 Sikh Americans live in Indiana.

The agonizing wait by the workers’ families was exacerbate­d by the fact that most employees aren’t allowed to carry cellphones inside the FedEx building, making contact with them difficult.

“When you see notificati­ons on your phone, but you’re not getting a text back from your kid and you’re not getting informatio­n and you still don’t know where they are. What are you supposed to do?” Mindy Carson said early Friday, fighting back tears.

Carson later said she had heard from her daughter Jessica, who works in the facility, and that she was OK. She was going to meet her, but didn’t say where.

FedEx said in a statement that cellphone access is limited to a small number of workers in the dock and package sorting areas to “support safety protocols and minimize potential distractio­ns.”

FedEx Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Frederick Smith called the shooting a “senseless act of violence.”

“This is a devastatin­g day, and words are hard to describe the emotions we all feel,” he wrote in an email to employees.

The killings marked the latest in a string of recent mass shootings across the country and the third mass shooting this year in Indianapol­is. Five people, including a pregnant woman, were shot and killed in the city in January, and a man was accused of killing three adults and a child before abducting his daughter during at argument at a home in March.

Last month, 10 died in gunfire at a supermarke­t in Boulder, Colorado.

A witness said he was working inside the building when he heard several gunshots 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.”

 ?? A J MAST/THE NEW YORK TIMES ?? Crime scene technician­s investigat­e the grounds Friday at a FedEx warehouse in Indianapol­is where authoritie­s say Brandon Scott Hole, a former employee, fatally shot eight people Thursday night before taking his own life.
A J MAST/THE NEW YORK TIMES Crime scene technician­s investigat­e the grounds Friday at a FedEx warehouse in Indianapol­is where authoritie­s say Brandon Scott Hole, a former employee, fatally shot eight people Thursday night before taking his own life.

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