The Journal Gazette
Thursday, July 29, 2021 1:00 am

Police: FedEx shooter not racially motivated

19-year-old chose familiar place for 'suicidal murder'

CASEY SMITH | Associated Press/Report for America

INDIANAPOLIS – The former employee who shot and killed eight people at an Indianapolis FedEx warehouse in April acted alone and was not racially or ethnically motivated, authorities said Wednesday.

Brandon Scott Hole, 19, used the April 15 attack as an act of “suicidal murder” and believed he would “demonstrate his masculinity and capability” while fulfilling a final desire to experience killing people, Indianapolis police and federal authorities said during a news conference.

Eight employees, including four members of the city's Sikh community, were killed in the attack and five others were injured, police said.

Police said Hole considered other locations for the shooting but chose the FedEx building because it was familiar to him. He also believed the site would give him access to a large number of vulnerable victims.

Paul Keenan, special agent in charge of the FBI's Indianapolis field office, declined to disclose other potential targets.

“He knew the location well,” Keenan said. “He knew there would be a large group of people there that he would consider targets.”

Hole had suicidal thoughts “almost daily” in the months prior to the attack and attempted suicide on “more than one occasion,” Keenan said. Although Hole had struggled with mental health stressors “throughout his life,” he had no previously diagnosed mental illness, and he did not share his plans for the FedEx shooting with family or friends.

Hole was able to legally purchase the two rifles used in the shooting, even after his mother called police last year to say her son might undertake “suicide by cop.”

Police seized a pump-action shotgun from Hole, then 18, in March 2020 after they received the call from his mother. One of the responding officers also witnessed “white supremist websites” on Hole's computer after the teen asked officers to cut the power to his computer, according to a police probable cause narrative from the incident.

Keenan said Wednesday an investigation by the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit determined that Hole was viewing “World War II, Nazi-like propaganda” on the computer, but he did not appear to have been motivated by a bias or desire to advance an ideology.

“It was an extremely small percentage ... but there were some mainly German military and Nazi things, but there was no indication that there was any animosity towards the Sikh community, or any other group for that matter,” Keenan said.

Members of the Indianapolis Sikh community pressed local and federal law enforcement for months for an investigation into the shooter's motive, emphasizing concern that Hole chose a place known for hiring people of color, specifically a Punjabi Sikh-majority.

Sikh Coalition Legal Director Amrith Kaur said that while “it's impossible” to know Hole's thinking, she was disappointed police did not release additional details about how they ruled out bias as a possible motive.

“It is important to recognize that bias can be a factor in addition to these other issues,” Kaur said in a statement Wednesday. “Though law enforcement has said this investigation is over, for all the families who lost loved ones, the survivors, the Sikh community, and anyone else impacted by hate violence, these questions will remain forever.”

Police said Hole entered the FedEx building shortly before 11 p.m. and spoke with security, then returned to his vehicle in the parking lot to retrieve the two guns used in the shooting.

Hole walked back to the employee entrance of the building, killing one FedEx employee outside. He entered the facility for a second time, firing his weapons at employees inside the entry area. Hole was unable to go further into the building but fired “several shots” at victims beyond the security gate, police said.

Hole was a former employee of FedEx and last worked for the company in 2020. McCartt said police found no indication that Hole had any animosity towards FedEx, specifically.

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