INDIANAPOLIS — Local and federal authorities provided a final update Wednesday morning on the investigation into the deadly mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis.
On April 15, eight people were shot and killed and five others were injured after the suspect, a 19-year-old man, opened fire at the FedEx ground facility on Mirabel Road.
The eight people killed were FedEx employees, ranging in ages from 19 years old to 74. Four of those victims were members of the Sikh community.
For months, investigators with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, including the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) out of Quantico, Virginia and the U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Indiana worked to determine the suspect’s motive in the attack and whether there were any biases that were a factor.
Officials said the shooter’s attack did not appear to be motivated by any biases or a desire to advance an ideology, but rather, they called it an ‘act of suicidal murder.’ Investigators believe the gunman wanted to die by suicide in a way he believed would show his masculinity and capabilities while fulfilling a final desire to experience killing people.
“Only the shooter knows all the reasons why he committed this horrific act of violence,” said FBI Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge, Paul Keenan.
“He kind of walked up and down the sidewalk and fired at anyone who was out there,” said IMPD deputy chief Craig McCartt. Investigators believe the gunman chose the victims at random.
Although the final chapter in the investigation is closed, for the families of the eight people killed, it isn’t that easy.
“There is absolutely no such thing as closure. I hate that term and so do the families because this never ends,” said Lisa Brown, victim assistance manager for IMPD’s Victim Assistance Unit.
Before investigators announced the results of the months-long investigation to the public, they met separately with families of the victims, as well as survivors of the mass shooting, just before Wednesday’s press conference.
Karen Smith’s 19-year-old daughter Karli Smith was killed in the shooting. She was out of state Wednesday morning, but attended the meeting between authorities and families, remotely.
“It’s really hard when you don’t really have anybody to hold accountable for it or to pay the price for it,” Smith said. “Nobody’s going to jail. It’s like, oh it just happened, and we have to live with it and it’s over. That’s not okay.”
“He doesn’t understand how he affected so many families. He didn’t just kill eight people. He ruined their families,” Smith said. “There’s a thousand ways you could have done what you needed to do without taking my family with you.”
Karli had only been working at FedEx for a few weeks before the shooting. According to Smith, her daughter picked up her first paycheck on April 15. She never even had the chance to cash it before her life was taken.
“Oh gosh, she’s super missed. It’s a little crazy that you don’t realize how much somebody impacts your life until they’re no longer in it,” Smith shared.
Smith said Karli always entered a room with a smile on her face and focused on lifting others up. “She was like a little mother hen,” said Smith.
“She was amazing. She was super smart and super caring. She loved everybody. She just had that infectious smile.”
Smith said Karli loved softball and that she was a talented athlete with a big heart.
“She really, really, really loved softball and she was really good, and she just wants other little girls to express their talents even when their parents don’t have the money,” said Smith. “We’re actually starting a softball fund in her name for little girls, who their parents can’t afford for them to play.”
Smith said her daughter should be on first base playing in the position she loved. Even though she’s not, Smith still goes to her games because she knows that’s what Karli would have wanted them to do.
As the days go by, Smith said their family is working to cope, but that these last several months have been trying for her and her family. Talking about Karli is something that’s helped her fight through the pain.
Brown has been with IMPD’s Victim Assistance Unit for more than two decades. Her department works to help with emotional recovery after someone’s become a victim of a crime and walk with them in the aftermath.
“Homicide is the worst thing that a family can endure,” she said. “I was telling the families this morning that they have a whole lot more in common than they do different.”
On Wednesday morning, Brown was there as loved ones of the victims, along with survivors, gathered to hear what investigators had concluded.
“They met our staff the day that this happened, they’ve met us several times after the fact. Obviously, this morning, and we will continue to work with them, and our door is open as long as they want us to walk beside them,” she said.
She said families of homicide victims don’t find closure, but rather, learn to walk in what she calls their ‘new normal.’
“They get a new normal and right now a lot of families in Indianapolis are living their new normal and unfortunately the pain doesn’t stop. There are different ways that they learn to cope with it,” said Brown.
The department has a support group that goes to the scene of homicides and also provides support afterward. With 151 homicides in the first seven months of 2021, including the eight people killed in the mass shooting, this is something the Victim Assistance Unit does often.
“We are affected by the violence that we see and just knowing every time we show up to the scene of a homicide that you’ve got a family whose life is completely different and it’s heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking to see, time and time again,” said Brown, who said it’s an honor to be trusted to help families and not something she takes lightly.
Hughley suffered injuries to her rib, spleen, lung, and said pieces of the bullet were left in her body after she was shot while in her car as she arrived for her shift. Hughley credited the actions of two IMPD officers for saving her life that night, and the trio had the chance to officially meet during an emotional reunion back in April.
Hughley said although her physical wounds are healed, that mentally she is still working to process what happened. She said hearing the details released Wednesday opened up wounds she has been working to heal but will continue to fight.
A fund set up for the victims in the FedEx mass shooting raised more than $1.5 million. To learn more about the fund and how to donate, you can visit the link, here.