INDIANAPOLIS — Friday marks one year since a gunman opened fire at an Indianapolis FedEx facility killing eight people. Now their families are going after FedEx, while also finding ways to honor their loved ones.
“There are at least eight different lights that have gone out in this world needlessly, and that could have been prevented,” said Matthew Alexander. He is the father of Karli Smith, one of the shooting victims.
This week, attorneys filed a lawsuit on behalf of the victims’ families. They believe the shipping giant could have done more to protect its employees from the shooter, 19-year-old Brandon Hole. They are also suing the security company that FedEx hired to keep the facility safe. The lawsuit argues that those security officers were not adequately trained to handle an active shooter situation.
“From our perspective, I don’t think there’s any question that FedEx is just 100% responsible for all of this preventable loss,” argued attorney Daniel Chamberlain, “We’ve been working on it for several months, but they’ve been living it for a year.”
Hole’s mother spoke with this station during an interview. She thinks FedEx could have done more to vet her son during the hiring process.
“I think they’re spot on. I think him having an incident prior to going to FedEx, having an incident at Amazon to where he was non-rehirable. Had FedEx vetted him, and figured out why he was non-rehirable at Amazon — there was a huge incident, volatile. That might’ve changed their mind about hiring him,” said Sheila Hole, Brandon’s mother.
“All we are saying to the corporate community is you’ve got to do something that’s reasonable,” added attorney Melvin Hewitt Jr.
They believe FedEx should have better protected their community the way 19-year-old Samaria Blackwell was planning to before she was killed during the incident. Blackwell was hoping to become a police officer when she got older.
The Central Indiana Police Foundation is sponsoring the Samaria Blackwell Memorial Scholarship. The award grants two teens $500 in scholarships if they plan to pursue a career in law enforcement while attending an Indiana college or university. Chloe Endsley and William Schmitt are the first two recipients of the scholarship.
“I think it’s a very touching story, and it really makes you have a perspective on life,” said Schmitt who is attending Indiana University. “Tomorrow is never guaranteed, so I think, from some of the stuff I read about her, and I think her dad said it, is, she lived her life to the fullest. I think that’s a great lesson for everyone to learn.”
“I read that she was very caring, and that she always wanted to help others, so that’s my main goal. I just want to live it out for her, and just remember her,” said Endlsey.
Tributes for the victims will continue on beyond the anniversary date. On April 23, the Sikh Coalition will be planting eight trees in honor of the victims of the shooting. It will happen during the Great Indy Clean Up at Arsenal Park. The event is sponsored by Keep Indianapolis Beautiful and the Eway Foundation.