“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.”
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. “
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.
“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.
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.
“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. .
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
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.
“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.
You Can Read Also