INDIANAPOLIS – Days away from the one-year anniversary of the deadly mass shooting at an Indianapolis FedEx facility, relatives of five of the victims killed have filed a lawsuit accusing the shipping giant and a security company of negligence and failure to ensure a safe workplace.
The shooting happened on the night of April 15, 2021, at the FedEx Ground facility on Mirabel Road. A former employee opened fire, killing eight people before turning the gun on himself. Five other people were injured.
The eight victims killed were FedEx employees ranging in age from 19 to 74 years old. Four of the victims were members of the Sikh community.
The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana names FedEx Corporation; FedEx Ground Package System, Inc.; Federal Express Corporation; FedEx Corporate Services, Inc.; and Securitas Security Services, USA as defendants.
The complaint was filed Monday by the families of Amarjeet Johal, 66, Amarjit Sekhon, 48, Jasvinder Kaur, 50, John Weisert, 74, and Karli Smith, 19, the victims killed in the worst mass shooting in the city’s history.
The lawsuit alleges inadequate security and negligence in keeping employees at the facility safe, both before and during the shooting.
Attorney Melvin Hewitt Jr., an Atlanta-based attorney representing families of the victims, called the shooting preventable.
Attorney Daniel Chamberlain with Cohen & Malad LLP in Indianapolis, who is also representing the families of victims, agreed.
“These types of situations cannot continue in the United States, let alone in the State of Indiana,” Chamberlain said of the shooting.
The lawsuit cited that there has been a history of shootings at other FedEx facilities and FedEx should have been aware of potential threats.
“Prior to the April 15, 2021 mass shooting event at the FedEx Ground Package Mirabel
Road facility, Defendants FedEx, FedEx Ground, FedEx Express, including its Security Specialists
assigned to the FedEx Ground Package Mirabel Road facility, FedEx Services and Securitas,
including its security officers assigned to the FedEx Ground Mirabel Road facility, were aware of
prior active shootings at other FedEx Ground Package facilities including an active shooter event
in Bedford Park, Illinois and a second active shooter event in Kennesaw, Georgia,” the lawsuit reads.
Hewitt and Chamberlain pointed to the 2014 shooting at a FedEx facility in Kennesaw, Georgia. Six people were injured in that shooting, none fatally, when a former employee opened fire.
Hewitt prosecuted the claims in that case, representing several of the people who were shot. The attorneys argued that the company should have taken more precautions after the 2014 incident.
“So FedEx has been put on notice that frankly this is something that is preventable,” Chamberlain said. “Had they followed their own policies and procedures, this would never have occurred.”
The victims weren’t on duty at the time of the Indianapolis shooting, the attorneys said. They’d either punched out and were done for the day or had just arrived to clock in for their shift. They’re calling for reasonable measures to protect workers.
The lawsuit details that the shooter, for example, entered the facility through an unrestricted, ungated parking area adjacent to the facility. He then exited his vehicle and made his way to the entrance, where he was confronted by security.
He demanded to see a manager, made a commotion and then went back to his car. After sitting in the vehicle for a few minutes, he emerged with a gun, shot at employees in the parking area, and then entered the facility, shooting several more people.
“It sucks that we have to go through this when the whole incident was 100% preventable,” said Gary Johal, son of Amarjeet Johal.
“Being a large corporation, you should have all your security measures covered, all your security angles covered, especially someone who’s coming in and causing a havoc and then wants to go out and get their whatever, and you know he’s causing havoc and you still don’t pay attention,” said Johal.
The lawsuit claims that during the shooter’s brief employment with the FedEx Ground facility from Aug. 2020 to Oct. 2020, he exhibited “emotional and mental instability on multiple instances that would cause an ordinary, reasonable person or employer to believe that Hole was potentially violent and/or dangerous to himself and others.”
In the lawsuit, it also claims the defendants “knew or should have known” of the gunman’s potentially violent and dangerous tendencies, which were likely to result in injuries to himself or others.
“I think they’re spot on,” said Sheila Hole, the shooter’s mother, who claims his outbursts began even before his employment with FedEx.
“I think him having an incident prior to going to FedEx, having an incident at Amazon to where he was non-re-hirable, had FedEx vetted him and figured out why he was non-re-hirable at Amazon, there was a huge incident, volatile, that might’ve changed their mind about hiring him,” said Hole.
She said she supports the lawsuit against FedEx. In an interview with FOX59, Hole revealed the steps she took to get her son help before the mass shooting, but said it wasn’t enough.
While she can’t change what happened or bring back the innocent lives taken, Hole said she wants to help the victims and their families.
“We have to be able to sit on the stand if I need to and tell the story, say what I tried to do and say who I think failed,” said Hole. “It’s more about their families and how we can help them.”
In July 2021, local and federal authorities detailed their findings into the investigation, including the rundown of events from that night. Investigators concluded that the shooter acted alone and that no other individual was involved or had any prior knowledge of his intent.
Investigators said the gunman’s attack did not appear to be motivated by any racial bias nor did he appear to be trying to advance any ideology. Instead, they stated he was only motivated by the desire to commit suicidal murder.
As the one year anniversary is approaching, family members of the victims said they’ve never recovered from the tragedy and believe more could’ve been done to protect their loved ones.
The lawsuit is seeking financial damages. The families said they would also like to see security improvements, not just for FedEx but for all businesses.
A spokesperson for FedEx said the company has been made aware of the lawsuit. In a statement to FOX59, the company shared:
“We continue to mourn the loss of our team members in the senseless tragedy that occurred nearly one year ago. FedEx Ground’s top priority is the safety of our team, and we have provided and continue to offer support in multiple ways to those affected, including employee assistance programs that are available 24/7, as well as the establishment of the Indianapolis 4/15 Survivors Fund in coordination with the National Compassion Fund. We are aware of the lawsuits and are reviewing the allegations in this claim.”FedEx Spokesperson
About the victims
The victims killed in the shooting were:
- 32-year-old Matthew R. Alexander
- 19-year-old Samaria Blackwell
- 66-year-old Amarjeet Johal
- 50-year-old Jasvinder Kaur
- 68-year-old Jaswinder Singh
- 48-year-old Amarjit Sekhon
- 19-year-old Karli Smith
- 74-year-old John Weisert
Gary Johal, the youngest son of Amerjeet Johal, said his mother was “the world” to her family.
“She was one of the strongest pillars of the family that brought the whole family together,” Johal said of his mother. “The most selfless person you could ever meet. I guess if you wanted me to compare her to someone, she was the most selfless person you could ever meet that can be compared to God. If you know what God is like, then you know what my mother is like.”
Johal said he’s still processing her loss, calling it “one of the biggest devastations” for the family. He believes multiple parties need to be held accountable for her death.
Matthew D. Alexander, the father of Karli Smith who also shares a name with one of the victims but is unrelated, called the loss of his daughter “extremely traumatic” for the entire family.
“It’s an ongoing process for me to try to comprehend because no one should have to bury their child,” Alexander said.
He hoped the tragedy would prompt even slight changes to protect workers and prevent a future shooting at FedEx or any other business.
Hewitt and Chamberlain maintain FedEx didn’t have enough security measures in place. They claim former and past employees expressed concerns about their safety before the shooting.
One interesting component of the lawsuit is the lack of records, the attorneys alleged, from law enforcement agencies. They claimed their open records requests were effectively ignored. They believe filing a lawsuit will compel a federal judge to grant them access to things like crime scene photos, witness interviews and surveillance video.
“That’s part of the complaint,” Hewitt said of the lawsuit. “We would’ve liked to have explained more but we can’t because we have not been given access to everything that law enforcement has.”
The attorneys said they had no plans to involve the city of Indianapolis, Marion County or the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office in their lawsuit. The prosecutor’s office, in particular, has faced tough questions about the state’s red flag law and why the FedEx shooter was able to purchase and possess firearms despite warnings about his instability and mental health.
While representatives of five of the eight victims are currently part of the lawsuit, the remaining victims’ family could still join the suit, the attorneys said. Other defendants could also be added to the lawsuit.
“If people want to join the lawsuit, they’re invited to join with us and work together. It just makes sense,” Chamberlain said.
For the victims’ families, the hurt will never go away—and the sense that it could have been prevented will gnaw at them forever.
“My mother was everything to me,” Johal said. “I can’t see myself moving forward at this moment, at least not without the justice we deserve.”
Since the shooter killed himself, there is no criminal case to provide closure. For Alexander, justice will be the prevention of a similar shooting happening in the future.
“There are at least eight different lights that have gone out in this world needlessly, and that could have been prevented, so we want to make sure that doesn’t happen to anybody else,” Alexander said.
Both Johal and Alexander described their loss as a “never-ending” struggle.