Indianapolis shooting: Sikh community mourns as 4 members were among victims in FedEx facility


“Our community has a long road to physical, mental and spiritual healing to recover from this tragedy,” Indianapolis Sikh community member Maninder Singh Walia told CNN Friday evening.

Indianapolis police released the names of the eight deceased victims on Friday evening. They are: Matthew R. Alexander, 32; Samaria Blackwell, 19; Amarjeet Johal, 66; Jasvinder Kaur, 50 years old; Jaswinder Singh, 68; Amarjit Sekhon, 48 years old; Karli Smith, 19; and John Weisert, 74.

Four of the eight killed were Sikhs, Walia said.

The community has grown in Indiana in recent years, he said. When he moved to the area in 1999, around 50 Sikh families were there. Hundreds of more families have arrived since then, with many Sikhs coming to Indianapolis for economic opportunities and good schools, Walia said.

The Sikh Coalition, a United States-based advocacy organization, said Indiana’s first gurdwara – or Sikh place of worship – was established in 1999. The state now has 10 gurdwaras and around 8,000 to 10 000 American Sikhs, the coalition said.

Motivation of the shooter unknown

“It’s a tragedy for all of us and we’re all family,” Walia said. “We are neighbors. We will do whatever we can to help our city heal in the weeks and months to come. It’s not like it’s going to go away.”

Although the gunman’s motive is not yet known, “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,” said Satjeet Kaur, executive director of Sikh. Coalition.

This sentiment was echoed in a letter to the Biden administration on Saturday, in which the Sikh Coalition wrote: “It is no coincidence that the gunman targeted this particular FedEx facility where he had worked and knew it was overwhelmingly made up of Sikhs. ”

“The people shot and killed were not random targets,” the coalition said. “As such, we implore the administration to ensure that this shooting is not simply dismissed by the media or law enforcement and to recognize what it is – a deliberate act intended to inflict the most wrong to various Americans. “

Members of the Sikh coalition gather at the Sikh Satsang in Indianapolis on Saturday, April 17 to formulate the group's response to the shooting at a FedEx facility that claimed the lives of four members of the Sikh community.
The Sikh faith was founded in the Indian region of Punjab. The Indian Minister of External Affairs, S. Jaishankar, tweeted he was “deeply shocked” by Thursday’s shooting and the fact that the Indian consulate in Chicago was in contact with the mayor of Indianapolis and local authorities.
“Will make all help possible,” Jaishankar also tweeted.
The attack marks at least the 45th mass shooting in the United States since the spa shooting in the Atlanta area on March 16. CNN considers an incident to be a mass shooting if four or more people, excluding the shooter, are injured or killed by gunshot.

It is the deadliest shooting in the United States since 10 people were killed on March 22 at a grocery store in Boulder, Colo.

Friends and relatives remember the victims

Sekhon and Kaur were relatively new to Indianapolis and were working the night shift at the FedEx facility when they were killed, said Rimpi Girn, an Indianapolis resident who knew them.

Sekhon, after immigrating to the United States in 2004, moved to Indiana in 2019 from Ohio to be closer to his family and loved ones, said Girn, a close family friend.

Sekhon leaves behind a husband and two sons, aged 13 and 19, Girn said.

Kaur, who immigrated to the United States in 2018, was the breadwinner of his family, according to Girn.

Sekhon drove Kaur to work because Kaur did not have a driver’s license, Girn said.

“They didn’t want to work nights anymore,” and they were looking for day shifts with FedEx, Girn said.

Weisert is said to have celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary this fall, his widow, Mary Carol Weisert, told CNN affiliate WTHR. He had worked at FedEx for about four and a half years, she said.
Mourners mourn as they gathered for a prayer vigil at Olivet Baptist Missionary Church in Indianapolis on Saturday, April 17, following a mass shooting at a FedEx facility that left at least eight dead.

“He’s just a package handler. A retired professional engineer (previously), but after he retired he wanted to continue working. We had some things we had to pay for, so he took this job,” she told WTHR.

Alexander was a graduate of Butler University, the Indianapolis school said.

“The Butler community mourns the loss of Matthew Alexander,” the university said on Twitter. “We want to express our deepest condolences to Matthew’s friends and families during this time of great sadness.”

Samaria Blackwell was the “baby of our family,” her parents said in a statement, describing her as a “loving and caring daughter” who was “tenacious in everything she did”, whether playing football or basketball or be a lifeguard.

“As a smart, straight A-student, Samaria could have done whatever she wanted to do,” said Jeff and Tammi Blackwell, “and because she loved helping people, she dreamed of becoming a police officer.

How the night went

Thursday night’s shooting only lasted a few minutes, police said.

It started when the gunman “got out of his car and quickly started shooting at random outside the facility,” Deputy Police Chief Craig McCartt said.

The gunman then “got inside and didn’t get very far into the facility at all,” while shooting other people, McCartt said.

FedEx employee Laveda Chester told CNN “OutFront with Erin Burnett” that she was in her car outside the building when she heard a pop.

“I thought it was a car accident, but when I saw the gunman running for the front door with his rifle, I immediately left the parking lot and called the police,” Chester said. .

Gunman who killed 8 people at Indianapolis FedEx facility as 19-year-old former employee

She waited for him to come in so she could leave without attracting the shooter’s attention. She called the police from another parking lot and said she had tried to warn other workers arriving that there was a shooting in progress. Some stopped and some passed it.

Investigators heard that the shooting only lasted “a few minutes – that it didn’t last very long,” McCartt said.

“I understand that by the time the officers entered … the situation was over – that the suspect committed suicide very shortly before the officers entered the facility,” McCartt told reporters.

At least 100 people were in the facility when the shooting started, he said. Many were on break for dinner or changing jobs.

Four people were found dead outside and four others, not including the shooter, were dead inside, McCartt said.

Police say they’re trying to figure out the motive

On Friday afternoon, McCartt identified the shooter as 19-year-old Brandon Hole, who was last employed by FedEx in 2020.
Authorities have been warned of FedEx gunman Brandon Hole's potential for violence, sources say

In March 2020, Hole’s mother told law enforcement that he could attempt “to commit suicide by a cop,” the FBI office in Indianapolis said.

The special agent in charge, Paul Keenan, said Hole was taken into immediate custody on mental health grounds by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. He also said that a shotgun was seized at the Hole residence.

“Based on elements observed in the suspect’s room at the time, he was questioned by the FBI in April 2020,” the statement said. “No racially motivated violent extremism (RMVE) ideology was identified during the assessment and no criminal offenses were found. The shotgun was not returned to the suspect.”

McCartt told reporters Indianapolis police found Hole’s name in two previous incident reports. The deputy chief had no information about the first report. The details he described in a 2020 report match the FBI statement.

When asked what brought the suspected gunman to the FedEx facility at around 11 p.m. Thursday, McCartt replied, “I wish we could answer that.”

The Police Department announced on Saturday that Hole had legally purchased two guns used in the attack.

“In Thursday’s incident, the suspect, Brandon Hole, witnessed the use of assault rifles in the assault,” the department said. mentionned. “The ATF made a trace of both weapons. The IMPD learned that Brandon Hole had purchased the rifles legally in July and September 2020.”
In a statement to CNN affiliate WRTV on Saturday, Hole’s family said they were “devastated by the loss of life caused by Brandon’s actions,” adding that “through the love of his family, we tried to give him the help he needed. ”

“Our sincerest and sincere apologies go to the victims of this senseless tragedy,” the statement read. “We are truly sorry for the pain and grief felt by their families and the entire Indianapolis community.”

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the name and age of shooting victim Jasvinder Kaur, 50, based on information provided by the Metropolitan Indianapolis Police Department.

Steve Almasy, Dakin Andone, Jason Carroll, Meredith Edwards, Jason Hanna, Kay Jones, LaCrisha McAllister, Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz, and Amanda Watts contributed to this report.

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