© Reuters. People embrace after learning that their loved ones are safe after a mass shooting at the FedEx facility in Indianapolis
Posted by Steve Gorman
(Reuters) – Half of the eight workers shot by a former employee at a FedEx (NYSE 🙂 facility in Indianapolis before killing himself were Sikh religious and led an advocacy group to investigate to promote possible racial or ethnic hatred as a factor.
Police officers said Friday they had not yet figured out what motivated the shooter, 19-year-old Brandon Hole, who was white, to run the rampage Thursday night at a FedEx operations center near Indianapolis International Airport.
The attack in Indiana's state capital, the third largest city in the Midwest, was the last in a spate of at least seven deadly mass shootings in the United States last month.
It came just over a year after Hole was briefly detained by police in psychiatric detention when his mother raised her concerns that he was considering "cop suicide" according to the FBI. A shotgun was confiscated from his home.
FBI agents who interviewed the teenager last April found no criminal injury at the time and stated that he did not possess a "racially motivated ideology of violent extremism," said Paul Keenan, special agent for the FBI's Indianapolis branch .
However, the New York-based Sikh Coalition, a civil rights group, has called for a full investigation into the "possibility of bias as a factor" in the FedEx killings.
Four members of the Sikh faith – three women and one man – were among the dead Thursday night and at least one Sikh person was wounded, said Gurinder Singh Khalsa, a businessman and leader of the local Sikh community briefed on the victims' families.
Singh Khalsa also told Reuters that the majority of the staff at the FedEx location are Sikhs whose religion is native to the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent.
He said the FedEx center is known to hire senior members of the local Sikh community who are not necessarily fluent in English.
Sikh Coalition Executive Director Satjeet Kaur said there are more than 8,000 Sikh Americans living in Indiana.
SPATE OF VIOLENCE
The recent surge in mass violence in the United States began on March 16 when a gunman shot and killed eight people, including six Asian women, in three day spas in the Atlanta area before he was arrested.
This rampage exacerbated tensions that had already built up over the past few years due to the rise in hate crimes and discrimination against Asian Americans, in part due to racially inflammatory rhetoric about the origins of the coronavirus pandemic in China.
Since the attacks on the United States by the militant Islamist group al-Qaeda on September 11, 2001, Sikh men have sometimes been publicly mistaken for Muslims for wearing turbans with uncut hair and beards.
The eight people killed in the violence on Thursday evening were between 19 and 74 years old. The shooting lasted only a few minutes and ended when police responded to the scene, Indianapolis Police Department deputy chief Craig McCartt said Friday.
Witnesses reported a chaotic attack when the shooter opened fire with a rifle in the parking lot before entering the facility and continuing to fire, leaving victims both inside and outside the building. The officers found the suspect dead from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
McCartt told reporters the suspect last worked at the plant in the fall of 2020.
When asked what got him back to the facility Thursday night, McCartt replied, "I wish I could answer that."
Neither government nor FedEx officials would say what ended Hole's employment with FedEx.