Brandon Scott Hole’s mother was worried about his mental state. She told authorities she was concerned her son would commit “suicide by cop” so the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department seized a shotgun from his home. But mere months later, Hole was able to legally purchase two semiautomatic rifles that he then used to fatally shoot eight people at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis on Thursday. The 19-year-old opened fire at the facility and killed eight people while wounding at least seven others before killing himself shortly before police arrived at the scene.
The way Hole was able to buy the two rifles he used in the attack in July and September of last year suggests that that he was not subject to what is known as a “red flag law” in Indiana. The measure prohibits people who have been determined to be dangerous from owning weapons. Under the state’s law, police have two weeks after taking someone’s weapon to present the case before a judge and argue that the person should be prevented from owning weapons. Although police never returned Hole’s shotgun it’s unclear whether a hearing before a judge ever took place, Chief Randal Taylor told the New York Times. “I don’t know how we held onto it,” Taylor said of the shotgun authorities seized from Hole. “But it’s good that we did.”
The revelation came shortly after the FBI said agents had interviewed Hole last year after his mother expressed concern about his mental health. But agents didn’t find evidence of a crime and they didn’t identify Hole as following any kind of extremist ideology, Paul Keenan, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis field office, said.
The gunman’s family released a statement apologizing on Saturday and emphasized that they had tried to get help for the 19-year-old, who was a former FedEx employee. “We are devastated at the loss of life caused as a result of Brandon’s actions; through the love of his family, we tried to get him the help he needed,” the statement reads. “Our sincerest and most heartfelt apologies go out to the victims of this senseless tragedy.”
Police have yet to reveal a motive for the shooting and whether hate or bias played a role considering four of the fatal victims were members of the Sikh community. The shooting came at a time when the Asian American community is reeling from increased attacks during the coronavirus pandemic, including last month’s shooting in the Atlanta area that killed six people of Asian descent. “These kinds of violent attacks are a threat to all of us,” said community member Maninder Singh Walia in a statement released by the Sikh Coalition. “Our community has a long road of healing—physically, mentally, and spiritually—to recover from this tragedy.”
Support work like this for just $1
Slate is covering the stories that matter to you. Become a Slate Plus member to support our work. Your first month is only $1.