A former FedEx employee returned to his onetime workplace and killed eight people at the company’s facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, late on Thursday, authorities said, the latest in a spate of US mass shootings in recent weeks.
Indianapolis police identified the shooter as Brandon Hole, a 19-year-old who had worked at the FedEx operations centre as recently as last year. Investigators said they were still unsure of Hole’s motive.
Police responded to a report of shots fired at the facility near Indianapolis airport on Thursday evening, and emergency medical services pronounced eight dead at the scene. Five were injured and taken to local hospitals and another two were treated by paramedics at the scene, according to police. Hole took his own life.
Hole had come to the attention of law enforcement just over a year ago. Paul Keenan, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis field office, said Hole’s mother contacted law enforcement in March 2020, concerned he might try to commit “suicide by cop”.
Hole was detained, his shotgun seized, and he was interviewed by the FBI, Keenan said. He added investigators did not identify any “racially motivated violent extremism” in last year’s assessment. Members of the Sikh community were among those killed, according to a statement from the Sikh Coalition, an advocacy group.
The Indianapolis shooting is the latest in a series of massacres in recent weeks that have revived concerns about gun safety as US cities and states resume normal activities after prolonged Covid-19 related shutdowns.
A gunman shot and killed 10 people in a Colorado supermarket last month. One week before that, a gunman killed eight people at spas in the Atlanta area, reviving concerns about a spike in hate crimes against Asian Americans.
Speaking at a White House press conference, President Joe Biden called the shootings “a national embarrassment” and urged the Senate to pass gun control legislation that has already cleared the House of Representatives.
“Bring it up now,” Biden said of the legislation, which has been held up due to a lack of Republican support. “This has to end.”
Frederick Smith, FedEx’s chief executive, said in a letter to employees that all eight victims were FedEx staff. The company said in a statement that it was “deeply shocked and saddened” by the killings.
“Our most heartfelt sympathies are with all those affected by this senseless act of violence,” the company said. “The safety of our team members is our top priority, and we are fully co-operating with investigating authorities.”
Gun control is a divisive issue in the US, where the right to “keep and bear arms” is enshrined in the US constitution’s second amendment.
But gun safety advocates are optimistic that momentum is building for significant reforms to the rules surrounding gun ownership, especially with the once-powerful gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, embroiled in financial and legal troubles.
A poll conducted for gun control groups Everytown for Gun Safety and Giffords in December found 93 per cent of American adults said the next president and Congress should work to require background checks on all gun sales.
Earlier this month, Biden signed a series of executive orders intended to crack down on the proliferation of so-called “ghost guns” — made from component parts — and draft “red flag” legislation for states to allow family members or law enforcement to identify individuals who might present a danger to themselves or others if they were to acquire a weapon.
Gun safety advocates agree that any major changes to federal gun laws will need to be done with the approval of Congress, rather than through unilateral executive order — an uphill battle given Democrats control the US Senate by the smallest of margins and any legislation would need the tacit support of 60 senators to comply with filibuster rules.
Friday is the 14th anniversary of a mass shooting at Virginia Tech, a public university, when a student killed 32 and injured 23.
Additional reporting by Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson in New York