Four Sikhs were among eight people killed in a mass shooting at a FedEx facility in the US state of Indiana staffed by a large number of Indian-American workers, shocking community leaders who urged President Joe Biden to address the country’s rising hate crimes and gun violence.
Brandon Scott Hole, a former employee, was named as the shooter. He reportedly committed suicide after the shooting at the FedEx facility in Indianapolis late Thursday night. FedEx was his last employer in 2020.
After his mother called police to suggest her son could commit “suicide by cop,” Hole was interviewed by FBI agents last year, the bureau said on Friday.
This is the worst Sikh massacre in the United States since the mass shooting at the Oak Creek Gurdwara in Wisconsin on August 5, 2012, which killed seven members of the group. Around 90% of the staff at this delivery service facility are Indian-Americans, mainly from the Sikh community, according to reports.
“This is very heart-breaking. The Sikh community is devastated by this tragic incident ” After meeting with family members of FedEx employees, community leader Gurinder Singh Khalsa told PTI over the phone.
The names of the victims were released late Friday night by the Marion County Coroner’s Office and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD).
Amarjeet Johal (66), Jaswinder Kaur (64), Amarjit Skhon (48), and Jaswinder Singh are four victims from the Sikh community (68).
The first three victims are all females.
Karli Smith, Alexander Matt, Samaria Blackwell, and John White are among the other victims. Harpreet Singh Gill, 45, a member of the Sikh community, was struck in the eye by a bullet and is now in the hospital.
After autopsies are done, the coroner’s office will decide the causes of death, according to the IMPD. President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris of the United States have expressed their condolences in the wake of the horrific killings.
“Vice President Harris and I have been briefed by our homeland security team on the mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, where a lone gunman murdered eight people and wounded several more in the dark of night,” Biden said in a statement.
In honour of the departed, Biden issued a proclamation. At the White House and on all federal buildings, he ordered the national flag to be flown at half-staff.
At the start of his bilateral meeting with Biden at the White House, visiting Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga expressed his condolences to the victims and sympathies to their families.
“Innocent citizens must not be exposed to any such violence. Freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law are the universal values that link and are prevalent in the Indo-Pacific,” he said.
Group members are in contact with authorities, according to Khalsa.
“Post 9/11, the Sikh community has suffered a lot. It is high time that strong measures be taken to bring an end to such mass shootings.
Enough is enough,” he said.
The Sikh community in Indiana numbers about 10,000 people. Community leaders, such as Khalsa, are involved in charitable and philanthropic activities.
“We have families in our country that are grieving the loss of their family members because of gun violence. There is no question that this violence must end. And we are thinking of the families that lost their loved ones,” Vice President Harris told reporters.
Before law enforcement arrived, the gunman reportedly turned his weapon on himself. He was a former employee at the FedEx facility in Indianapolis, according to FedEx. There was no further details released.
The Indian Embassy in the United States has expressed its deepest condolences to the families of those killed in the “shocking” mass shooting.
Amit Kumar, India’s Consul General in Chicago, spoke with Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, who pledged his full support.
“We are closely monitoring the situation and remain ready to provide all possible assistance,” the Indian Embassy said in a statement on Friday night.
Khalsa said: “This should be a wake-up call for the entire country, in particular, the Sikhs and Asian Americans, against whom there has been a sudden spurt in hate crimes.”
Khalsa said community leaders would meet on Saturday to discuss the horrific event and the next steps, not ruling out the possibility of a hate crime.
“We request the president of the United States that he needs to come forward and be serious about hate crimes, especially against the Sikh community because they are very vulnerable due to their appearance and look,” he said.
“The president should take it seriously — gun controls, automatic semi-automatic guns — they are very lethal,” he said.
“We are deeply saddened by this latest killing in Indianapolis. It is very troubling to hear random mass shootings taking place in America almost every week. This kind of senseless killing and gun violence needs to stop,” Rajwant Singh, chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, told PTI.
“I am heartbroken to confirm that my naniji (maternal grandmother), Amarjeet Kaur Johal, is among those killed in the senseless shooting at the FedEx facility in Indianapolis,” said Komal Chohan.
“We are still working to identify others who were injured and killed on Thursday night.I have several family members who work at the particular facility and are traumatised. My nani, my family, and our families should not feel unsafe at work, at their place of worship, or anywhere,” she said.
Despite the fact that Sikhs first arrived in Indiana more than 50 years ago, the first gurdwara was not established until 1999. The Sikh population in the Indianapolis area has grown significantly over the last two decades; there are now ten gurdwaras across the state and an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 Sikh Americans who call Indiana home.
“I am deeply shocked and saddened by the loss of eight FedEx employees following the tragic shooting at FedEx Ground facility in Indianapolis.
This FedEx facility was staffed by a large number of Asian Indian Sikh employees. I am saddened to know that at least four of those killed are members of the Indianapolis Sikh community,” said Democratic leader Ajay Jain Bhutoria.
Meanwhile, the AAPI Victory Alliance has requested that the shootings be investigated immediately to see if they were racially motivated.