INDIANAPOLIS — A mass shooting at a FedEx Ground facility in Indianapolis claimed the lives of eight victims and left several others injured.
“I’m not no victim, I’m a survivor. That’s what I’m going with. I’m a survivor.”
Those are the words that Angela Hughley, a mother of five, told FOX59 just two days after she was shot, as she was recovering from her injuries in the hospital. She has since been released and is recovering at home.
Hughley described the shooting that left her with severe injuries to her rib, spleen, lung and left pieces of the bullet in her body. “I stopped, and then next thing I know I see somebody walking towards me just start shooting at me,” she recalled. “So, I backed my car back, and he steady just walking towards me just shooting.”
Hughley said she put her car in drive and “zoomed past him,” but she said at that point she knew she had been hit. Her car was riddled with bullet holes. Hughley made it to the other side of the parking lot, away from the shooter.
As she was waiting on the phone for a dispatcher, Hughley said her 19-year-old son, who also works at FedEx, arrived to help keep her calm.
It was the two people who arrived next that Hughley is forever thankful for and says saved her life that night.
“Dispatch started putting out run, after run, after run. By the third or fourth dispatcher we knew what was going on,” said Patrolman Skip Copeland, who has been with the city for 30 years, and worked with this department at the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) for 18 years.
“I was driving as fast and hard as I could to get there to try to save life, preserve life, when I got on scene, I was driving through the parking lot and I noticed a car that was shot up and there were two people standing on the other side of the car,” he said. “I wanted to make sure that they weren’t a shooter. I drove up to that car, that’s when I found Ms. Hughley.”
He said he began rendering first aid and then IMPD officer Jason Niewedde arrived to assist.
Niewedde said, “I saw Skip. He was by himself, so I went over, he instructed me we had a person shot, had to get them out, start rendering aid.”
“Once we got her out of the car, Jason said that we needed some gauze, so I went to the trauma kit that was donated to the department several years ago,” Copeland explained. Through the use of an Israeli emergency bandage in the kit, the officers wrapped it around Hughley, applying pressure until medics arrived.
The officers said Hughley’s strength and calmness throughout the entire response was commendable, noting that at one point after she was shot in the side, she even rolled herself over to help the officers as they applied the tourniquet-like bandage.
Hughley said Copeland and Niewedde were her advocates and voice in the chaotic moments that followed.
“He kept calling the dispatcher like, ‘Where’s this ambulance at? She’s critical, she needs to go to the hospital,’” said Hughley. She told FOX59 that the officer had said he would put her in the back of his car if needed to, if that’s what it took to get her to the hospital faster.
“We were gonna put you in my car,” he shared as they reunited. Hughley laughed, “that’s what I told my auntie!”
Copeland said it was a team effort with Niewedde, who alerted the ambulance to the spot where they were off with Hughley.
“There were so many people that needed help it was hard and we were away from the main scene,” said Niewedde. “It was just hard to get the exact location, so it just took an extra minute to get help.”
He said he held his breath until the officers were given the update that she made it to the hospital and was stable.
On Tuesday, Hughley had the chance to embrace the two officers she calls her heroes, for the first time since that night.
“I shouldn’t have made it, but I did make it,” she said. “So, it’s a blessing to see them.”
“You’re standing up and walking,” Copeland excitedly said when he saw Hughley. “I’m so glad you’re good.”
Hughley said she didn’t know whether she’d see them again. She laughed that she could never forget Copeland’s voice. When he called and left her a voicemail at the hospital, she said “I know that voice.”
“You hear that voice; you know who officer Copeland is. I didn’t know his name, but I knew his voice.”
The officers said they’re not heroes, though to the family of Hughley, they’re part of the reason she is alive.
“I was just doing my job that night, same with Jason,” Copeland shared.
“We were just doing our job that we signed up for. We just want to save as many lives as we possibly can,” added Niewedde.
Family of Hughley — who says the officers are now part of their own family — came out Tuesday to thank the officers and offer to pray with them for the officer’s safety.
“We are so thankful to have her home, especially because we’ve got five boys. Thank you so much,” shared one family member.
“We wake up and pray for y’all because y’all got a tough job. Thank you for taking your time to come out and checking on her. We appreciate you so much,” he shared.
“I wanted to meet you. I’m her auntie,” Anglea Holland, Hughley’s aunt said as she introduced herself to the officers. “I want to thank you for saving her.”
Hughley, Copeland and Niewedde are bonded by a night that changed many lives forever. They are now considered a part of the family and even received their invite to the family cookout this summer.
“I don’t miss many meals,” joked Copeland. “I’ll be here for that, absolutely.”
The pair told Hughley and her family it doesn’t matter what the reason is, if they ever need them, they will be there.
“It’s an amazing feeling to see her up and walking, talking, laughing, making jokes,” said Niewedde.
Copeland shared, “I was fighting back the tears. I did have a little tear come down, but this wasn’t about me. This was about Miss Hughley surviving and standing up, talking, walking down.”
Hughley still has a long recovery ahead, and although physically she might look like she is improving, she said there are things she is battling every moment of the day.
“When night falls, it’s like I’m back in the same situation,” she said. “It keeps like a video recorder — keeps playing over and over again.”
She is in good spirits as she works to cope with this tragedy, support her son deeply impacted by what he saw, and physically regain her strength, but she said this day has given her a new perspective as she works to heal.
“In an instant anything can happen. Don’t take life for granted. We here for a purpose so we need to fulfill that purpose and do our job because in an instant it can be all just taken away. I want people to cherish their loved ones,” she shared.
Hughley and her family said they are praying for the families of everyone killed in the shooting, and those working to heal from their injuries or the impacts they are facing by being there on that night.
As she parted ways with the officers Tuesday, the bond was just beginning with two strangers — now family — who very well might have saved her life.
“Love you mam,” Copeland said. “I love you, too,” Hughley responded.
IMPD told FOX59 their department continues to extend its thoughts and prayers to those impacted by the mass shooting. While so many people did lose their lives, IMPD said, they are appreciative for the success stories, not just of those that received physical injuries, but also the ones who were there and people affected by what happened.
IMPD said it continues to extend their thoughts and prayers and officers encourage anyone needing assistance or support to seek help.