17 April 2021

Joe Biden demands action after US mass shooting claims eight lives

17 April 2021

President Joe Biden said action must be taken following the latest mass shooting which saw eight people killed at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis by a former employee.

It comes after the FBI said the killer was interviewed by agents last year, after his mother called police to say that her son might commit “suicide by cop”.

Coroners released the names of the victims late Friday, a little less than 24 hours after the latest mass shooting to rock the US

Four of them were members of Indianapolis’ Sikh community.

The attack was another blow to the Asian American community 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 during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Marion County Coroner’s office identified the dead as Matthew R. 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 gunman was identified as Brandon Scott Hole, 19, 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, Mr McCartt said.

Hole began firing randomly at people in the car park of the FedEx facility late Thursday, killing four, before entering the building, fatally shooting four more people and then turning the gun on himself, Mr McCartt said.

He said he did not know if Hole owned the gun legally.

“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.”

Brandon Scott Hole has been identified as the gunman (AP) (AP)

Mr McCartt said the killings took place in a matter of minutes, and that there were at least 100 people in the facility at the time.

Many were changing shifts or were on their dinner break, he said.

Several people were wounded, including five who were taken to the hospital.

“You deserved so much better than this,” a man who identified himself as the grandson of Ms Johal tweeted on Friday evening.

Ms Johal had planned to work a double shift Thursday so she could take Friday off, according to the grandson, who would not give his full name but identifies himself as “Komal” on his Twitter page.

Ms Johal later decided to grab her cheque and go home, and still had the cheque in her hand when police found her, Komal said.

“(What) a harsh and cruel world we live in,” he added.

Ms Smith, the youngest of the victims, was last in contact with her family shortly before 11pm on Thursday, family members said in social media posts.

Dominique Troutman, Ms Smith’s sister, waited for hours at the Holiday Inn for an update on her sister.

“Words can’t even explain how I feel. … I’m so hurt,” Ms Troutman said in a Facebook post on Friday night.

Mr Weisert had been working as a bag handler at FedEx for four years, his widow, Carol, told WISH-TV.

The home of 19-year-old Brandon Scott Hole (Michael Conroy/AP) (AP)

The couple were married for nearly 50 years.

Mr Biden said he had been briefed on the shooting and called gun violence “an epidemic” in the US.

“Too many Americans are dying every single day from gun violence.

“It stains our character and pierces the very soul of our nation,” he said in a statement.

Later, he tweeted, “We can, and must, do more to reduce gun violence and save lives.”

A FedEx employee 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.”

Paul Keenan, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis field office, said that agents questioned Hole last year after his mother called police to say that her son might commit “suicide by cop”.

The American flag flies at half-mast over the White House in Washington (Susan Walsh/AP) (AP)

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.

A police report obtained shows that officers seized a pump-action shotgun from Hole’s home after responding to the mother’s call.

Mr Keenan said the gun was never returned.

Mr McCartt said Hole was a former employee of FedEx and last worked for the company in 2020.

The deputy police chief 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 the shooting.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox