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Gunman who killed 8 workers at Indianapolis FedEx site had been detained for mental illness

WorldApr 17, 2021 02:46AM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. Undated handout photo of Brandon Hole 2/2

By Maria Caspani and Mark Hosenball

(Reuters) -The 19-year-old gunman who killed eight workers and himself at an Indianapolis FedEx (NYSE:FDX) center was a former employee who was placed under psychiatric detention last year after his mother reported concerns he might commit "suicide by cop," police and FBI said.

Four members of the Sikh religious community - three women and a man - were among the dead in Thursday night's gun rampage, according to a local Sikh leader who said he had been briefed by the victims' families.

Law enforcement officials said they had not immediately determined whether racial or ethnic hatred was behind the killings. But a Sikh civil rights advocacy group called for an investigation of any possible hate bias involved in the crime.

The incident - the latest in a spate of at least seven deadly mass shootings in the United States over the past month - unfolded at a FedEx operations center near Indianapolis International Airport after 11 p.m. local time, police said.

It lasted only a couple of minutes and was over by the time police responded to the scene, Craig McCartt, the Indianapolis police department's deputy chief, told a news briefing on Friday.

Witnesses described a chaotic attack, as the gunman opened fire with a rifle in the parking lot before entering the facility and continuing to shoot, leaving victims both inside and outside the building. Officers found the suspect dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

A FedEx spokeswoman and police identified the gunman as Brandon Hole, a former employee at the facility. McCartt told reporters the suspect was believed to have last worked at the plant in the fall of 2020.

Asked what brought him back to the facility on Thursday night, McCartt replied: "I wish I could answer that."

'SUICIDE BY COP'

The FBI said the suspect had been placed under a temporary mental health detention by Indianapolis police in March 2020 after his mother contacted law enforcement to report he might try to commit "suicide by cop."

A shotgun was seized from his residence then, and based on "items observed in the suspect's bedroom at that time," he was interviewed by the FBI in April 2020, FBI Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge Paul Keenan said in a statement.

"No racially motivated violent extremism ideology" was identified during that assessment, and no criminal violation was found, but the shotgun was not returned, Keenan said.

The massacre is the most recent in a series of U.S. mass shootings that has again pushed the issue of gun violence to the political foreground.

Indianapolis - the capital of the Midwestern state of Indiana - alone has seen two mass shootings this year. In January, police say a teenager shot and killed four family members and a pregnant woman.

Thursday's gun violence at the FedEx center was the second mass shooting in recent weeks targeting workplaces employing a high concentration of people of Asian descent.

Sikhs, whose religion originated in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent, accounted for four of the eight killed and at least one wounded, according to Gurinder Singh Khalsa, a businessman and leader of the local Sikh community.

Singh Khalsa told Reuters the majority of employees at the FedEx site are Sikh.

The Marion County Coroner's Office later identified the dead as: Matthew Alexander, 32, Samaria Blackwell, 19, Amarjeet Johal, 66, Jaswinder Kaur, 64, Jaswinder Singh, 68, Amarjit Sekhon, 48, Karli Smith, 19, and John Weisert, 74.

The New York-based Sikh Coalition, which describes itself as the largest Sikh civil rights organization in the United States, said it expected authorities to "conduct a full investigation — including the possibility of bias as a factor."

The coalition's executive director, Satjeet Kaur, said more than 8,000 Sikh-Americans live in Indiana.

The recent surge in U.S. mass shootings began on March 16 when a gunman shot eight people to death, including six Asian woman, at three Atlanta-area day spas before he was arrested.

That rampage heightened tensions already brewing over a rise in hate crimes and discrimination directed at Asian Americans in recent years, stoked in part by racially inflammatory rhetoric about the coronavirus pandemic's origins in China.

'STAINS OUR CHARACTER'

Reacting to the latest tragedy, U.S. President Joe Biden ordered flags lowered to half staff and reiterated his call for Congress to pass tougher gun restrictions.

"Too many Americans are dying every single day from gun violence," he said. "It stains our character and pierces the very soul of our nation."

Earlier this month, Biden announced limited measures to tackle gun violence that included a crackdown on self-assembled "ghost guns." But more stringent measures face an uphill battle in a divided Congress, where Republican lawmakers have long opposed any new gun limits.

There have been 147 mass shootings in 2021, defined as incidents in which at least four people were shot, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit website that tracks firearm-related incidents.

Friday also marked the 14th anniversary of the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history at Virginia Tech, which saw 32 people killed.

'HOODED FIGURE'

Indianapolis FedEx employee Olivia Sui told Reuters via text message that she and some co-workers had just left the building after picking up their paychecks and were sitting in a car in the parking lot when shots rang out.

"That's when I looked around and saw the gunman with a rifle, run into the building," followed by more gunfire, she said. "I panicked and started reversing from the parking lot as fast as I could."

Another employee, Levi Miller, told NBC's "Today Show" he ducked out of sight when he saw a hooded figure holding what appeared to be an AR-style semiautomatic rifle who shouted and opened fire outside the facility.

Five people were taken to hospitals with gunshot wounds, including one in critical condition, police said. Two more were treated on scene and released.

As employees' relatives, friends and colleagues gathered at a nearby hotel afterward, some expressed frustration at being unable to reach workers at the site, where company policy bars many employees from having mobile phones to avoid distractions.

In a message to staff, FedEx Chief Executive Officer Frederick Smith said all eight killed were employees.

"I want to express my deepest sympathies to the families, friends, and co-workers of those team members," said Smith, who added that the company is cooperating with investigators.

Gunman who killed 8 workers at Indianapolis FedEx site had been detained for mental illness
 

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Comments (7)
Catholic Man
CatholicMan Apr 17, 2021 2:21PM ET
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So another case of false accusations of racism, and nothing that “gun control” would have prevented.
Whaling Trawler
Whaling Trawler Apr 17, 2021 11:45AM ET
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Why is this article here? This is a business and investment app. Is this article about investing in FedEx?
danny Levine
danny Levine Apr 17, 2021 9:32AM ET
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Chris sundo is brainwashed beyond redemption
Chris Sundo
Chris Sundo Apr 17, 2021 6:13AM ET
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Federal FBI and federal institutions fails to apply common sense: They did not take this boy in and failed to give him the care and supervision he needed because the Fed was busy throwing Billions and Trillions at Wallstreet's brokerage houses who live high lifestyles while squandering America's future and infrastructure funds that should have been spent on education, managing mental institutions, implementing and supervising gun registries and other infra-structure for health and mental care.
Chris Sundo
Chris Sundo Apr 17, 2021 5:31AM ET
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It's not only the police in the USA that are incompetent mentally. There is a very high level of mental incompetence among the USA population that is a DIRECT result of lacking infrastructure on all levels including the very obvious education component and the very obvious lack of mental care component to those like this boyish-looking shooter who could not help himself enough due to lack of care by the system which was busy stuffing its pockets.
Chris Sundo
Chris Sundo Apr 17, 2021 5:24AM ET
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'..stoked in part by racially inflammatory rhetoric about the coronavirus pandemic's origins in China..' -- There you have it. Donald Trump was the creator of this inflammatory rhetoric about the coronavirus pandemic's origins in China. All the dead people including those of the Capitol are all courtesy of a mentally incompetent former POTUS Donald J Trump. The world heard every word of his childish demeanor, yet almost one-half of incompetent Americans voted for this monster a second time. When will Americans wake up from all this incompetence?
Catholic Man
CatholicMan Apr 17, 2021 5:24AM ET
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hilarious comment
danny Levine
danny Levine Apr 16, 2021 9:44AM ET
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lockdowns will kiill more people than covid
Chris Sundo
Chris Sundo Apr 16, 2021 9:44AM ET
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a.) hardly. Americans are to blame. They have to practice discipline to survive in the future, be that guarding themselves from covid or guarding themselves from China's aggressions. -- Letting out their Anger on fellow Americans from an Asian background is like spitting into the air while lying on one's back. America has to do the hard work and dig themselves out. It's all to blame on the GOP's neglect of the country's infra-structure, education, health care, mental care institutions and paying attention to detail, and it's also to blame on the incompetent American voters who can't distinguish right from wrong and conmen from intelligent people
 
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