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Four Sikhs were among the eight victims of a shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis on 16 April, according to the Sikh Coalition.
“We are sad to confirm that at least four of those killed in Thursday night’s attacks are members of the Indianapolis Sikh community,” the Coalition said on Friday.
Officials said that the gunman, a former employee of FedEx, killed himself after murdering eight people and wounding at least seven, five of whom were hospitalised.
The eight victims were identified as Amarjit Kaur Sekhon (48), Jaswinder Kaur, (64), Amarjeet Kaur Johal (66), Jaswinder Singh (68), Karlie Smith (19), Samaria Blackwell (19), John Weiset (74), and Matthew Alexander (32).
Police identified the alleged killer as Brandon Scott Hole, 19. He had come on the law enforcement radar previously but no action had been taken against him other than seizing a shotgun and returning it to him.
The head of the local office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Paul Keenan, said that “no Racially Motivated Violent Extremism (RMVE) ideology was identified” when he was investigated.
He explained that Hole had been questioned after his mother had warned that he might try to commit suicide by provoking police to shoot him. Hole’s sister told WXIN TV that he was “isolated” and “never got the help he needed”.
She told the station that there was a history of mental illness in the family and that their father had committed suicide in 2004.
Indianapolis Police Deputy Chief Craig McCartt said that he could not yet ascribe a motive for the killings. He told reporters that Hole began shooting people in the parking lot of the major US parcel and courier company facility killing four people, then entered the building and killed four others.
He then apparently committed suicide before police arrived.
“There was no confrontation, no disturbance, he just randomly started shooting,” McCartt said.
Sikhs have for long been victims of bias attacks in US, often being mistaken for Muslims because of their turbans.
According to the FBI’s hate crime statistics for 2019, the latest available, there were 49 anti-Sikh attacks with 60 victims.
Sikh Coalition Executive Director Satjeet Kaur said: “While we don’t yet know the motive of the shooter, he targeted a facility known to be heavily populated by Sikh employees, and the attack is traumatic for our community as we continue to face senseless violence.”
Chairman of SikhsPAC, Gurinder Singh Khalsa, made a formal statement following the tragedy.
“Whether these shootings are targeted — such as the mass shootings that took place in Atlanta against the Asian community — or random acts of hate, such as this horrible crime, they all have one similarity; they are becoming commonplace within our country that prides itself on tolerance and diversity…
It is never too late to step up and choose country over party, or country over opinion. We need to think as one; regardless of nationality, race, creed, religion, or political beliefs. We the people need to begin to pressure our elected officials to begin to make the decisions that will keep you, I, our neighbors, our friends, and our families safe.”
The tragedy has added to calls for gun reform in the US.
“What a cruel wait and fate that has become too normal and happens every day somewhere in our nation,” said President Biden as he urged Congress to “enact common sense gun violence prevention legislation, like universal background checks and a ban of weapons of war and high-capacity magazines.”
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