Sikh group demands hate crime probe into FedEx gun rampage after it emerged FOUR of the eight victims were from their tight-knit community - but police say they DON'T know motive for the atrocity

 A Sikh group has called for an investigation into whether the shooting rampage at an FedEx facility in Indianapolis was a hate crime, after four of the eight people killed were revealed to belong to the religious community.

Law enforcement officials said Friday they have yet to determine what motivated the gunman, 19-year-old Brandon S. Hole, who was white, to carry out Thursday night's rampage at a FedEx operations center near Indianapolis International Airport. 

The attack in Indiana's state capital, the third most populous city in the Midwest, was the latest in a spate of at deadly mass shootings in the United States over the past month, and follows concerns about anti-Asian violence.

Hole was fired by FedEx sometime last year, and last spring he was briefly placed under psychiatric detention by police when his mother reported her concerns that he was contemplating 'suicide by cop,' according to the FBI. A shotgun was seized from his home.

FBI agents who interviewed the teenager last April found no criminal violation at the time and determined he possessed no 'racially motivated violent extremism ideology,' said Paul Keenan, special agent in charge of the FBI's Indianapolis field office.

But the New York-based Sikh Coalition, a civil rights advocacy group, called for a full investigation into 'the possibility of bias as factor' in the FedEx killings.

Shooter Brandon S. Hole's motive remains unclear, but Sikh groups are demanding that racial bias be investigated
Amarjeet Kaur Johal, 66, was among those killed in the shooting at the FedEx facility in Indianapolis. Four of the eight victims, including Johal, were Sikh, and the FedEx operations facility had a large Sikh workforce

Shooter Brandon S. Hole (left) killed eight, including four Sikhs. Amarjeet Kaur Johal, (right) 66, was among those killed in the shooting at the FedEx facility in Indianapolis, which is known to have a large Sikh workforce

Members of the Sikh Coalition gather at the Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis on Saturday as the community reels from the shooting. More than 8,000 Sikh Americans live in Indiana

Members of the Sikh Coalition gather at the Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis on Saturday as the community reels from the shooting. More than 8,000 Sikh Americans live in Indiana

Members of the Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis prepare a communal meal in their Gurdwara building in Indianapolis, Saturday

Members of the Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis prepare a communal meal in their Gurdwara building in Indianapolis, Saturday

A body is taken from the scene on Friday after multiple people were shot at a FedEx Ground facility in Indianapolis

A body is taken from the scene on Friday after multiple people were shot at a FedEx Ground facility in Indianapolis


Four members of the Sikh faith - three women and a man - were among the dead in Thursday night's shooting spree, and at least one Sikh individual was wounded, said Gurinder Singh Khalsa, a businessman and leader of the local Sikh community who said he was briefed by victims' families.

The Marion County Coroner´s office identified the dead late Friday 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.

Hole apparently began firing randomly at people in the parking lot of the FedEx facility, killing four, before entering the building, fatally shooting four more people and then turning the gun on himself, according to Deputy Police Chief Craig McCartt.

Singh Khalsa also said the majority of employees at the FedEx site are Sikhs, whose religion originated in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent.

He said the FedEx center was known for hiring older members of the local Sikh community who did not necessarily speak fluent English.

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

Members of the religion began settling in Indiana more than 50 years ago and opened their first house of worship, known as a gurdwara, in 1999. 

Nationally, there are some 500,000 adherents in America, often recognizable by their articles of faith, which include unshorn hair and turbans. They have been the target of hate crimes and violence in the past.

Four members of the Sikh faith - three women and a man - were among the dead in Thursday night's shooting spree. Above, the community gathers at the Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis on Saturday

Four members of the Sikh faith - three women and a man - were among the dead in Thursday night's shooting spree. Above, the community gathers at the Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis on Saturday

Since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States perpetrated by the Islamist militant group al Qaeda, Sikh men have sometimes been confused publicly with Muslims because of their turbans and beards.

'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 in a statement released by the Sikh coalition. 

'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 traumatized,' Chohan added. 

'My nani, my family, and our families should not feel unsafe at work, at their place of worship, or anywhere. Enough is enough--our community has been through enough trauma.'  

Maninder Singh Walia said that the Sikh community in Indiana has been devastated by the shooting.

'I have sat with families from our community and so many others at the Holiday Inn Express as they wait to hear the fates of their loved ones,' Walia said. 

'These kinds of violent attacks are a threat to all of us. Our community has a long road of healing--physically, mentally, and spiritually--to recover from this tragedy.' 

A body is taken from the scene on Friday after multiple people were shot at a FedEx Ground facility in Indianapolis

A body is taken from the scene on Friday after multiple people were shot at a FedEx Ground facility in Indianapolis

On Saturday, members of the Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis prepare a communal meal in their Gurdwara building. The community expressed thanks for 'the messages of love and support coming from around the state, country and world'

On Saturday, members of the Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis prepare a communal meal in their Gurdwara building. The community expressed thanks for 'the messages of love and support coming from around the state, country and world'

The Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis is the oldest gudwara in Indiana. It was built in 1999, but the Sikh community in the state has been growing for 50 years

The Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis is the oldest gudwara in Indiana. It was built in 1999, but the Sikh community in the state has been growing for 50 years

Leaders of the Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis participate in an interview addressing their grief in the parking lot of their gudwara on Friday. It is the oldest gudwara in Indiana, built in 1999

Leaders of the Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis participate in an interview addressing their grief in the parking lot of their gudwara on Friday. It is the oldest gudwara in Indiana, built in 1999


On Saturday, eight Indiana gudwaras, or houses of worship, issued a joint statement, saying: 'Like all of Indianapolis, our community is coming together to grief and mourn after Thursday night's horrific attack.'

'We do not yet know the motive of the shooter, and we may never know for sure what drove him to do what he did. We do know, however, that the FedEx facility he targeted was well known for having a large Sikh workforce,' the gudwaras added.

'Given everything our community has experienced in the past -- the pattern of violence, bigotry, and backlash we have faced -- it is impossible not to feel that same pain and targeting this moment,' they said. 'We expect that the authorities will continue their full investigation and share what they learn when they can, and they will take this into account.'

The joint statement expressed deep gratitude for 'the messages of love and support coming from around the state, country and world.'

'Now, we must work together not just to heal, but to take action and confront the terrible plague of hate and acts of mass violence like this that threaten us all,' the statement added.

The shooting comes the week Sikhs are celebrating Vaisakhi, a major holiday festival that among other things marks the date Sikhism was born as a collective faith. 

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.

Thursday's shooting is the deadliest incident of violence collectively in the Sikh community in the U.S. since 2012, when a white supremacist burst into a Sikh gudwara in Wisconsin and shot 10 people, killing six. 

A seventh died in 2020 from complications stemming from the injuries he suffered during the incident. That gunman killed himself during a firefight with police.

Mourners bow their heads and weep during a prayer vigil at Olivet Missionary Baptist Church Saturday in Indianapolis, Indiana. The vigil was held in the wake of a mass shooting at a FedEx Ground Facility that left at least eight people dead

Mourners bow their heads and weep during a prayer vigil at Olivet Missionary Baptist Church Saturday in Indianapolis, Indiana. The vigil was held in the wake of a mass shooting at a FedEx Ground Facility that left at least eight people dead

Pastor Denell Howard of the Olivet Missionary Baptist Church leads a prayer at a vigil in Indianapolis on Saturday

Pastor Denell Howard of the Olivet Missionary Baptist Church leads a prayer at a vigil in Indianapolis on Saturday

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

He said the FBI was called after items were found in Hole´s bedroom but he did not elaborate on what they were. The agents found no evidence of a crime and they did not identify Hole as espousing a racially motivated ideology.

A police report shows that officers seized a pump-action shotgun from Hole's home after responding to the mother´s call. Keenan said the gun was never returned. Indianapolis police said Friday that Hole opened fire with a rifle.

As the names were released, family and friends of the victims began posting remembrances on social media.

Samaria Blackwell, of Indianapolis, was a soccer and basketball player who last year graduated from Indy Genesis, a Christian competitive sports organization for homeschooled students. 

Teammates posted on Facebook that Blackwell 'was always smiling and cracking jokes. She was so loving, goofy, encouraging, and supportive.' Family friends have organized a fundraiser for the Blackwell family to assist with funeral expenses.

Karli Smith, the youngest of the victims, was last in contact with her family shortly before 11pm Thursday, family members said in social media posts late Friday
Samaria Blackwell, of Indianapolis, was a soccer and basketball player who last year graduated from Indy Genesis, a Christian competitive sports organization for homeschooled students

Victims Karli Smith (left) and Samaria Blackwell (right) were also among those killed in Thursday's shooting

 

John Weisert
Mary Carol Weisert displays a picture of her husband, John Weisert, near his workplace at a FedEx ground facility on Friday. Weisert says that the status of her husband is still unknown

Mary Carol Weisert displays a picture of her husband, John Weisert,(left) near his workplace at a FedEx ground facility on Friday. John Weisert was among those confirmed killed

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

Dominique Troutman, Smith's sister, waited hours at the Holiday Inn for an update on her sister. 'Words can´t even explain how I feel. ... I´m so hurt,' Troutman said in a Facebook post Friday night.

Weisert had been working as a bag handler at FedEx for four years, his wife, Carol, told WISH-TV. The couple was married nearly 50 years.

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 eight people killed in Thursday night's violence ranged in age from 19 to 74. The shooting lasted only a couple of minutes and was over by the time police responded to the scene, McCartt said.

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.

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.'

Sikh group demands hate crime probe into FedEx gun rampage after it emerged FOUR of the eight victims were from their tight-knit community - but police say they DON'T know motive for the atrocity Sikh group demands hate crime probe into FedEx gun rampage after it emerged FOUR of the eight victims were from their tight-knit community - but police say they DON'T know motive for the atrocity Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 07:07 Rating: 5

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