The gunman who carried out a massacre at a FedEx sorting facility, killing eight people before shooting himself, was a 19-year-old former employee who had had a shotgun seized by authorities last year, Indianapolis police said Friday as quoted by The Washington Post.
The shooting, which left seven injured, came during a shift break at the facility, and left bodies throughout the parking lot and inside the cavernous warehouse just after 11 p.m. Thursday.
Authorities said they were investigating what might have motivated the killer, whom they identified as Brandon Hole. He appeared to have fired his rifle at “random,” officials said, and the entire attack lasted no more than a couple of minutes.
At least four of those killed were members of the Sikh community in Indianapolis, according to the Sikh Coalition, a national advocacy group.
Long before the shooting, Hole had been known to law enforcement. Last spring, after his mother reported her fears that he would attempt “suicide by cop,” he was questioned by authorities, and the police temporarily detained him for mental health reasons, FBI Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge Paul Keenan said.
Keenan said the bureau had interviewed Hole in April 2020 based on “items observed in the suspect’s bedroom” when he was visited by Indianapolis police officers a month earlier, following his mother’s report. Keenan’s statement did not specify what those items were, and an FBI spokeswoman declined to comment.
Keenan said no “Racially Motivated Violent Extremism” — an FBI term generally used to refer to those motivated to commit crimes based on race — was identified during the FBI’s assessment, and “no criminal violation was found.”
With Hole’s shotgun seized and not returned, it was unclear how he had obtained the rifle used Thursday night.
The mass killing in Indianapolis was the latest in a grim litany that has left a trail of bloodstained sorrow across the country this spring. In the past five weeks, there have been six public mass shootings in the United States, including massacres at three Atlanta spas and a supermarket in Boulder, Colo. Together, the shootings have claimed 40 lives. The Indianapolis killing came a day before the 14th anniversary of a mass shooting at Virginia Tech, in which a gunman killed 32 people.
The latest killings add to an endlessly growing list of communities scarred by a burst of gunfire in a shared space, including violent rampages that cut people down in workplaces, churches, synagogues, schools, grocery stores, movie theaters, nightclubs and concerts.
As with those shootings, the political response to the massacre in Indianapolis followed a well-worn pattern on Friday: Democrats insisted on strengthening gun control laws, while Republicans remained unbendingly opposed.
President Biden said Friday that gun violence “stains our character and pierces the very soul of our nation” as he ordered flags at the White House and other federal properties be lowered to half-staff. In a statement in which he called gun violence an “epidemic,” Biden also reiterated his call for Congress to pass universal background checks and an assault-weapon ban.
Despite the prodding from Democrats, Republicans — who have resisted gun-control measures for decades — showed no sign of reconsidering.
Experts and researchers have found common threads in America’s epidemic of mass shootings — many of which apply in Indianapolis. Active shooters tend to be male and, fueled by grievance, will often target a place they know. Mass attackers, experts say, often nurse a sense of victimization.
In 2018, the FBI released a study examining dozens of shooters who opened fire between 2000 and 2013. Rather than acting out of the blue, researchers found that these attackers often exhibited several concerning behaviors before opening fire. More than half of the attackers signaled their intent to commit violence. And most of them obtained their guns legally.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Friday that it was working to trace the rifle used in Thursday night’s shooting.