Marion County prosecutor says state’s ‘red flag law’ didn’t stop FedEx shooter from buying more guns

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INDIANAPOLIS – Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears said gaps in the state’s “red flag law” essentially negated efforts to keep guns out of the hands of accused FedEx shooter Brandon Hole.

According to Mears, police were called to Hole’s home on March 3, 2020, after his family reported he was having suicidal thoughts. Police seized a shotgun from Hole; the family didn’t want the gun returned.

Mears said Hole was committed for a brief time for evaluation. No medication was prescribed at that time.

“Concerning material” was then found in Hole’s room. Police forwarded that information to the FBI, which investigated and later interviewed him.

The state’s “red flag law” allows police or courts to seize guns from people who may commit violent acts. It became law in 2005 after the death of Indianapolis police officer Jake Laird by a man whose weapons had been returned even though the individual had mental health issues.

The law is intended to prevent people from buying or possessing firearms if they’re found to be “an imminent risk” to themselves or others.

But Mears said, despite the good intentions behind the law, its application is problematic. Since Hole surrendered the gun and there was no overt violent act, the prosecutor’s office didn’t have a reason to pursue the matter further.

Even though Hole had mentioned the idea of “suicide by cop,” Mears said that mere utterance was not sufficient to pursue an order from a judge.

In addition, Mears suggested the 14-day limit to file a case doesn’t provide enough time to investigate.

Mears also said that, under the law, warrants are allowed only for seizure of weapons, meaning investigators can’t get an individual’s mental health history or medical records—information that could give more context for a decision.

The prosecutor also said the “red flag law” doesn’t prohibit anyone from purchasing a firearm unless there is a court order showing the individual has a propensity for violence.

Hole was in possession of two rifles when police found him dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the aftermath of the April 15 shooting. He’d purchased the guns legally in July and September of 2020, according to the ATF.

Mears considers the law a good start but believes changes are needed, including a longer timeline for red flag hearings.

He said the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office has filed eight red flag petitions this year.

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