He appeared in the parking lot after dark — a hooded figure with a gun who immediately began spraying bullets in every direction.
He stepped into the FedEx warehouse, a place where he had once worked, and continued shooting, “firing into the open,” according to one witness.
He shouted unintelligibly as he fired off round after round, and then, before the police could even arrive, he had killed himself, leaving in his wake eight dead and at least seven wounded.
On Thursday night, in a terrifyingly quick spasm of violence, Indianapolis faced its third mass shooting since the start of the year. And a nation already weary from a pandemic grappled with yet another bloody rampage, only weeks after back-to-back mass shootings last month at spas in the Atlanta area and at a grocery store in Boulder, Colo.
“It is a national embarrassment, what’s going on,” President Biden said in a news conference on Friday, as he repeated his support for a ban on assault weapons. “And it’s not only these mass shootings that are occurring. Every single day, every single day, there’s a mass shooting in the United States if you count all those who are killed out on the streets of our cities and our rural areas. It’s a national embarrassment and must come to an end.”
The mayor of Indianapolis, Joe Hogsett, told reporters of the “scourge of gun violence that has killed far too many” in his city and in the country as a whole.
Witnesses described sudden chaos and ducking for cover as a man with a rifle appeared at the entrance shouting and firing.
Kamal Jawandha, whose parents were sorters who had been working at the facility on Thursday night, said his mother hid in the bathroom during the rampage. When the shooting was over, his parents saw one of the victims, a person whom they knew, lying dead on the floor.
“She’s in deep sadness,” Mr. Jawandha said of his mother. “She just can’t stop shaking. She can’t believe this kind of thing would happen here.”
The names of the eight victims in the Indianapolis shooting were released on Friday night. This is a breaking story and will be updated. Here is what we know about them so far.
Mr. Singh had just started working at the FedEx facility this week and had told everyone how excited he was to get his first paycheck, according to Harjap Singh Dillon, whose sister was married to one of Mr. Singh’s sons. He was working the night shift sorting mail.
“He was going to get his first check,” Mr. Dillon said. “He didn’t get it.”
Mr. Singh lived with his son in the Indianapolis suburb of Homecoming, near their local temple. He was quite active doing community service with his temple, Mr. Dillon said. Mr. Singh had lived in California before moving to Indiana, he said.
“We are a very close family,” Mr. Dillon said. “We didn’t know he had been working last night.”
The authorities said Mr. Singh was 68, while his family said he was 70.
“He was a simple man,” Mr. Dillon said. “He used to pray and meditate a lot, and he did community service.”
Ms. Sekhon moved to Indiana from Ohio to be closer to family. She leaves behind two sons, ages 14 and 19, according to Rimpi Girn, a niece.
She began working at FedEx about six months ago on an overnight shift from 11 p.m. to 11 a.m. A large part of the Sikh community worked at FedEx, Ms. Girn said.
Ms. Girn said she had struggled to explain the loss to Ms. Sekhon’s youngest teenage son.
“We can’t even think of what to tell him,” Ms. Girn said. “All of a sudden last night his mom went to work, and she never came back today.”
Jigna Shah, a family friend, described Ms. Sekhon as a kind soul who was very close to her family members. They met about nine years ago through temple, and their families loved spending time together, Ms. Shah said. On the weekends, they attended temple, prayed together and cooked lentils, sweets and other foods side by side.
“It was always joy to be with them,” Ms. Shah, 47, said of Ms. Sekhon’s family.
“She was a very sweet person,” Ms. Shah said. “She was like an aunt to our family.”
Officials said Ms. Sekhon’s age was 48. Her family said it was 49.
Ms. Kaur was supposed to make her renowned yogurt at a large family celebration for her granddaughter’s second birthday on Saturday. Ms. Kaur is the mother of Ms. Girn’s sister-in-law.
“And today we’re gathering to plan a funeral,” she said.
At a Sunday gathering, Ms. Kaur had asked Ms. Girn to help her get a driver’s license since she was traveling to her night shifts at FedEx with Ms. Sekhon.
“No more license for her,” she said. “That’s it. It was just talk. She doesn’t need a license for anything now.”
The authorities said Ms. Kaur was 64. Her family said she was 50.
Well-groomed and punctual, Mr. Weisert had been an Air Force officer during the Vietnam era, according to his son, Mike Weisert. He then had an itinerant career as a mechanical engineer, working across the country for companies such as Pratt & Whitney and Brown & Root, and traveling to Kuwait for a job in the mid-2000s, Mike Weisert said.
But Mr. Weisert, who was 74, had also been the victim of downsizing, his son said.
About four years ago, he took a job as a part-time package handler at FedEx, working the evening shift “to make ends meet,” his son said. Recently, his wife of nearly 50 years, Mary Carol Weisert, had been pressuring him to retire, and Mr. Weisert had talked about leaving the job next month or taking the summer off, Mike Weisert said.
“She didn’t like him being over 74 years old and getting to be as weak as he was,” Mike Weisert said. “He was hunched and arched over with his back. The job was killing him by inches, slowly. His career had been winding down and some of us were worried.”
Mike Weisert remembered his father as “somewhat of an introvert,” who had “kind of a goofy, cornball sense of humor about him.”
He liked to play country and western and bluegrass music on guitar and watch wrestling on TV. He also loved action movies and classic films. “Lawrence of Arabia” was a particular favorite.
In addition to his son, he also had a daughter, Lisa, who lives in Seattle.
“He was a very decent, kind man, very dedicated to protecting and providing for the ones he loved,” Mike Weisert said.
At least four of the eight victims of the Thursday night shooting were part of the local Sikh community, many of them drawn to the Indianapolis area to take jobs at places like the FedEx warehouse that was attacked.
The warehouse employed many Sikhs, and on Friday, relatives confirmed the deaths of Jasvinder Kaur, 50; Amarjit Sekhon, 49; Jaswinder Singh, 70; and Amarjeet Johal, 66.
In a statement from the Sikh Coalition, a granddaughter of Ms. Johal’s, Komal Chohan, said that she had several family members who worked at the warehouse and that she was heartbroken about “the senseless shooting.”
“My nani, my family and our families should not feel unsafe at work, at their place of worship, or anywhere,” she said. “Enough is enough — our community has been through enough trauma.”
Although the motive of the gunman is unknown, local leaders said his actions generated fear similar to what many Sikhs felt after the Sept. 11 attacks, when they were confused for Muslims, and after a 2012 rampage by a white supremacist, who killed six people at a gurdwara, or Sikh temple, in Oak Creek, Wis.
“We don’t know whether this was targeted or a coincidence,” said Dr. Sukhwinder Singh, 29, a leader at his gurdwara southeast of Indianapolis. “We are all so numb. This is something that will take weeks to process.”
The Sikh community in Indianapolis has grown in recent years. The Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis, a large gurdwara, was built about 20 years ago, and has grown from about 50 families to about 1,000 members, according to the Center for Faith and Vocation at Butler University.
The community is known for its long history of service, supporting victims of natural disasters and, during the coronavirus pandemic, organizing food drives and grocery delivery for older people. An annual Sikh day parade started in Indianapolis about six years ago.
The Sikh temples in the Indianapolis area, Dr. Singh said, will hold special prayer services for mourning and discuss whether they need to take any action to protect community members.
The exact size of the Sikh population in the United States is hard to determine, but estimates suggest that there are several hundred thousand members. According to the Sikh Coalition, about 10,000 Sikh Americans have made Indiana their home over the past 50 years.
Kanwal Prakash Singh was one of the first to arrive, moving to Indianapolis in 1967. Over the decades, he worked for the local government, built a business, served on the police merit board and watched the area’s Sikh population grow by the thousands.
Sikhs had come to feel at home in Indiana, he said. But over the years, there were difficult times, especially after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“No matter where you went, somebody yelled at you ‘Osama bin Laden’ or somebody yelled at you ‘Go home,’” Mr. Singh said.
Still, the community continued to grow, with many Sikhs moving to the Midwest from the coasts. Some became doctors or police officers, while many others worked in trucking or transportation or operated gas stations.
They raised families, attended temple, worked hard.
Then on Friday morning, just after 6 a.m., the police called Mr. Singh.
“The shock wave went through the entire Sikh community,” he said.
The 19-year-old gunman who opened fire at a FedEx warehouse in Indianapolis late Thursday, killing eight people, was previously reported to law enforcement by his mother, who warned them last year that her son might attempt “suicide by cop,” officials said.
The news of the gunman’s previous encounter with law enforcement — including the seizure of a shotgun from him last year — punctuated a day of suspense and grief on Friday.
Law enforcement officials identified the suspect as Brandon Scott Hole, a former employee of the company. Mr. Hole was armed with a rifle during the attack and later killed himself, officials said.
Paul Keenan, special agent in charge of the F.B.I. field office in Indianapolis, said Mr. Hole had been interviewed by federal agents in April of last year. After the teenager’s mother reported him to law enforcement in March 2020, the authorities opened an investigation and put him on an “immediate detention mental health temporary hold,” Mr. Keenan said in a statement.
The shotgun was not returned, but he was not charged with a crime.
Steam rose from a large steel bowl of potatoes as hands quickly worked at peeling off the skin in the kitchen of the Gurdwara Shri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, a Sikh temple outside Indianapolis. Outside, five red rugs lined the linoleum floor. Women dressed in colorful salwar kameez with scarves over their heads ate in silence amid the sounds of prayer on Saturday morning.
This is the Sikh practice of the langar, a free meal offered to anyone and everyone who visits.
“It is rooted in our belief that everyone is equal, irrespective of religion, race, class or creed,” said Kulwinder Singh, 50, as he cut the freshly peeled potatoes. “Do not call this work. It is a privilege to serve the community — and we’re not just talking about Sikhs.”
Jaswinder Singh, 68, one of the victims killed in the shooting at the FedEx facility on Thursday night, also served at this community kitchen,
cutting vegetables, mopping floors, and serving people seated in line during rush hour.
“We gave him tasks that were less demanding physically because of his age,” said the chairman of the gurdwara, whose name is also Jaswinder Singh. (The two men were not related.)
A resident of Homecoming, a suburb in Indianapolis, Mr. Singh lived less than a mile away from the temple. He was deeply religious and would come by daily, the chairman said.
“Before last week, it was any time of day that you could expect to see him,” the chairman said. “But then he started the job at FedEx last week, which he was so excited for, so he would come in before his shift.” The night he was shot, he was collecting his first paycheck at the facility.
Two days before the shooting, Sikhs around the world celebrated Vaisakhi, the Sikh New Year and a commemoration of the founding of the religion. Now, even amid their grief, Sikhs in Indianapolis are continuing to offer langar.
“We don’t believe we were especially targeted as a community in this shooting,” said Santokh Singh, 62, who was also at the gurdwara Saturday. “There have been several mass shootings over the last few years and especially since the start of this year. It is a disease plaguing the country right now, and this happened here to so many Sikhs because there are so many of us in this area.”
The mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis that left eight people dead on Thursday was the third such event in the city this year.
At a news conference on Friday, Chief Randal Taylor of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department called the toll “unacceptable.”
Joe Hogsett, the mayor of Indianapolis, urged residents not to be desensitized by the devastation.
“We must guard against resignation or even despair, the assumption that this is how it simply must be and that we might as well get used to it,” Mr. Hogsett said.
A mass shooting is defined by the Gun Violence Archive as one with four or more people injured or killed, not including the perpetrator. The two others earlier this year occurred inside homes and included smaller death tolls.
The first incident occurred on Jan. 24, when authorities responded to the scene of a domestic dispute that involved a father and son arguing over staying out too late, according to The Indianapolis Star. When the police entered the home, they found five victims with gunshot wounds who were pronounced dead on the scene, authorities said. One of the victims, a pregnant woman, also lost her unborn child.
The victims included Kezzie Childs, 42; Raymond Childs, 42; Elijah Childs, 18; Rita Childs, 13; and Kiara Hawkins, 19, according to police.
The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office charged Raymond Childs III, 17, with six counts of murder. Mr. Childs is the son of Kezzie and Raymond Childs and the brother of Elijah and Rita Childs, The Indianapolis Star reported.
Almost two months later, on March 13, authorities were directed by a victim of a gunshot wound to a residence where four people were found fatally shot, according to Indianapolis Police.
The victims were identified by police as Eve Moore, 7; Daquan Moore, 23; Anthony Johnson, 35; and Tomeeka Brown, 44.
Sarah Bahr, Mitch Smith and Campbell Robertson
This article originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News