INDIANAPOLIS — Police on Friday were seeking a motive and working to identify the eight victims in a mass shooting at a FedEx facility late Thursday.
Police responded to the FedEx Ground facility on the city’s southwest side just after 11 p.m. Thursday for a report of shots fired at a business. Police encountered “a very chaotic and active crime scene” after a gunman fired at random both inside and outside the facility, Indianapolis Deputy Police Chief Craig McCartt said at a news conference Friday.
Authorities identified the suspect as 19-year-old Brandon Scott Hole of Indiana, according to two law enforcement officials briefed on the matter provided who provided the identity to The Associated Press. The officials could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
Authorities are searching a home in Indianapolis associated with Hole and have seized evidence, including desktop computers and other electronic media, the officials said.
The shooting Thursday night left eight people dead and several wounded.
Four people died outside and four died inside, plus the shooter, McCartt said. Five other people were injured in the incident, four with gunshot wounds and one with another injury, McCartt said.
Some Sikh community members were killed and injured in the FedEx shooting, according to a statement from Graham West, media and communications director for the Sikh Coalition. The statement indicated neither the Sikh victims’ names nor how many were killed and injured.
The coroner’s office has not been able to get onto the scene to identify the victims and inform family members until police finish collecting evidence at the scene, said Alfarena McGinty, chief deputy coroner for Marion County.
McCartt said the investigation is “very much in its infancy” and that it will take more time for crime scene authorities to process the scene.
“The eyes of the nation are on Indianapolis today in ways that we would never have hoped for,” Mayor Joe Hogsett said Friday.
Here’s what we know Friday:
What happened during the shooting?
McCartt said Friday the shooting occurred over a short period of time.
“This suspect came to the facility, he got out of his car and pretty quickly started some random shooting outside the facility,” McCartt said.
“Then, he did go into the facility for brief time before he took his own life,” McCartt added.
Levi Miller, who works at the FedEx facility, told the “TODAY” show he was eating with co-workers when they heard several gunshots.
“I assumed it was a muzzle problem with a car,” he said. Miller was outside the building and then heard more than a dozen more shots fired rapidly. He stood up and saw a “hooded figure.”
“The man did have an AR in his hand, and he started shouting and then he started firing at random directions,” Miller told “TODAY.”
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Miller said he thought the gunman saw him so he ducked for cover. He added that his friends at work told him another man not initially involved pulled out a gun from his truck to “try and engage the shooter.”
At the news conference, McCartt said he had not heard from officers in his department about whether another employee tried to engage the shooter but did not rule it out as a possibility.
Timothy Bouillat, who also works at the facility, told the Washington Post a similar account of how the shooting unfolded, and seeing someone who confronted the gunman being shot.
“I’m trying to process what happened and not lose composure,” Bouillat told the Post. “It could have been me. I could have been the one on the floor, not being able to see my twin boys again.”
Who are the FedEx victims?
Eight people are dead and five people were injured and hospitalized. At least one person remained in critical condition at 3 a.m. Friday. Other injured people took themselves to hospitals in the area, said Genae Cook, spokesperson for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
No law enforcement officers were among the wounded, Cook said.
Police established a family unification center at the Holiday Inn a mile from the warehouse, for those that had not heard from loved ones.
FedEx prohibits employees from having their phones with them while they are working. McCartt said employees not having their phones did not affect police response time but may have added to frustration and confusion at the unification site.
Several hours after the shooting, family members sat in the hotel lobby waiting to hear if their loved ones who worked at the facility were OK. Some had pajamas on. One man had a sleeping child covered in a blanket on his shoulder. They wore masks to protect themselves from COVID-19.
The scene inside the Holiday Inn’s ballroom was nothing short of “chaos,” other family members said.
“I’m just worried about my father,” Ashlee Floyd said. Her father has worked at the FedEx facility near the airport for two decades. He usually calls his wife at 11:25 p.m., but didn’t call on Thursday, she said. “I don’t know if he’s OK. I don’t know if he’s injured. I don’t know if he’s gone. I’m just scared right now.”
‘I don’t know if he’s OK’: Families wait to hear of loved ones who work at FedEx facility
“It is hard because if my friend had a phone, he would be able to contact me right away,” added Jose Lopez, who has worked at the facility for about six months and was at the Holiday Inn. “Even if it’s a message with one letter, you know he is living.”
As of 10:30 a.m., McGinty said coroner’s officials were “still a number of hours out” from being able to process the scene and begin formal identification of victims.
The Sikh Coalition was unable to unable to include more information beyond that some victims were Sikh and it does not know the shooter’s identity and motive, West wrote.
“We are deeply saddened to learn that Sikh community members are among those injured and killed by the gunman in Indianapolis last night,” coalition Executive Director Satjeet Kaur said in the statement.
“Our hearts and prayers are with their families, and we are in touch with community leaders, government and law enforcement officials to learn more. While we don’t yet know the motive or identity of the shooter, we expect that authorities will continue to conduct a full investigation — including the possibility of bias as a factor.”
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What to know about Indianapolis and the FedEx facility
The FedEx Indianapolis hub, which employs more than 4,500 team members, is the second-largest hub in the company’s global network, a representative told the IndyStar, part of the USA TODAY Network, in March.
Indianapolis, the capital of Indiana, is about three hours (about 180 miles) southeast of Chicago and less than two hours (about 110 miles) west of Cincinnati.
What is FedEx saying?
FedEx issued a statement after the incident on Twitter, saying it is cooperating with authorities and working to get more information.
“We are deeply shocked and saddened by the loss of our team members following the tragic shooting at our FedEx Ground facility in Indianapolis,” FedEx wrote in another statement released shortly after 4 a.m. “Our most heartfelt sympathies are with all those affected by this senseless act of violence. The safety of our team members is our top priority, and we are fully cooperating with investigating authorities.”
What is the White House saying?
President Joe Biden has been briefed on the shooting and top White House aides have been in touch with local leaders on the ground, said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
“Gun violence is an epidemic in America. But we should not accept it. We must act,” Biden said in a statement. He also ordered the flag at the White House to be lowered to half-staff for the fourth time in less than five weeks.
Psaki said the latest in a string of recent shootings shows why more action is needed on guns, pointing to Biden’s support of three bills that would tighten background checks that passed the House last month.
One bill would expand background checks on people seeking to purchase or transfer firearms, while another would close the so-called Charleston loophole, which allows gun sales to proceed without a completed background check if three business days have passed. The bills face uphill battles in an evenly divided Senate.
Earlier, Indianapolis Mayor Hogsett said he also signed a letter with more than 150 other mayors asking the Senate to pass stricter gun regulations.
“The scourge of gun violence that has killed far too many in our community and in our country,” Hogsett said at the news conference.
The shooting is one of 28 mass shootings in the U.S. in the month of April alone, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The archive defines a mass shooting as four or more people shot or killed, not including the shooter. The archive include domestic incidents and is not limited to public mass shootings.
Contributing: Alexandria Burris, Domenica Bongiovanni and Sarah Nelson, Indy Star; Elinor Aspegren, USA TODAY; The Associated Press