From Wikimedia Commons by Dylan Ashe
On Thursday April 15, a White man opened fire on a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Ind. in a deadly mass shooting that left eight dead, four of whom were Sikh American. At least seven others were injured. When police arrived on scene, the shooting had already concluded, and they found the shooter dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to CNN.
A GoFundMe page has been set up, where all the funds raised will be directed to the families of the deceased and survivors of the shooting.
Here is what is known about the eight deceased victims:
Amarjeet Kaur Johal
According to The Indianapolis Star, Johal, who recently turned 66, was a grandmother and a member of the Sikh community in Indianapolis. According to her granddaughter, Komal Chohan, Johal had been planning to work a double shift at the FedEx facility to rest on the following day. Instead, she chose to pick up her check and leave.
“She still had her check in her hand when they found her,” Chohan wrote.
Chohan described her as a sweet, loving woman. “She was a well loved woman!” she wrote. “She never had a violent or angry bone in her body.”
Chohan expressed the trauma and the pain her family is suffering in the aftermath of the shooting.
“I have several family members who work at the particular facility and are traumatized,” Chohan told the Sikh Coalition. “My nani, my family, and our families should not feel unsafe at work, at their place of worship, or anywhere. Enough is enough—our community has been through enough trauma.”
According to The New York Times, Sekhon was the mother of two sons aged 14 and 19 and a member of Indianapolis’s Sikh community.
Sekhon moved from Ohio to Indiana to be closer to family and began working the overnight shift at FedEx six months ago.
Rimpi Girn, Sekhon’s niece, said that she was struggling with what to tell Sekhon’s youngest son.
“We can’t even think of what to tell him,” she told The New York Times. “All of a sudden last night his mom went to work, and she never came back today.”
Sekhon was described warmly as a hard worker by her brother-in-law, Kuldip Sekhon. “She liked to work. She liked to eat. She liked money,” he told The Indianapolis Star. “If you wanted to take her shopping, she would go with you.”
Jigna Shah, a close family friend of the Sekhons, spoke of the wonderful experiences they had shared together. They often attended temple, prayed and cooked lentils, sweets and other food together on the weekends.
“She was a very sweet person,” Shah told The New York Times. “She was like an aunt to our family.”
While authorities said Sekhon was 48, her family said she was 49.
A GoFundMe page for Sekhon’s sons and their father has been organized by her niece.
Kaur, also a member of Indianapolis’s Sikh community, was planning to make her famous yogurt for her granddaughter’s second birthday on Saturday. “And today we’re gathering to plan a funeral,” Girn, the sister-in-law of Kaur’s daughter, told The New York Times.
During a recent family gathering, Kaur has asked Girn for help in obtaining her driver’s license, since Kaur and Sekhon were commuting together to work the night shift at the FedEx facility.
“No more license for her,” Girn said. “That’s it. It was just talk. She doesn’t need a license for anything now.”
While authorities said Kaur was 64, her family said she was 50.
Singh, also a member of Indianapolis’s Sikh community, moved from California to Indiana with his son. According to Harjab Singh Dillon, the brother of Singh’s daughter-in-law, Singh began working at the FedEx facility as a mail sorter earlier this week. He had been very excited about his new job and told everyone about receiving his first paycheck.
“He was going to get his first check,” Dillon told The New York Times. “He didn’t get it.”
Singh was an active member of his community, often volunteering at the local temple. “He was a simple man,” Dillon said. “He used to pray and meditate a lot, and he did community service.”
While authorities said Singh was 68, his family said he was 70.
Weisert, 74, was a Vietnam War veteran who, upon his return, followed a winding career path as a mechanical engineer, according to Mike Weisert, his son. Four years ago, he began working as a part-time package handler for FedEx “to make ends meet.”
His son said that recently, his wife, Mary Carol Weisert, had been asking him to retire, and he was considering either quitting or taking a vacation the following month.
“She didn’t like him being over 74 years old and getting to be as weak as he was,” his son told The New York Times. “He was hunched and arched over with his back. The job was killing him by inches, slowly. His career had been winding down and some of us were worried.”
According to his son, Weisert was “somewhat of an introvert” who sported “kind of a goofy, cornball sense of humor about him.” Weisert enjoyed playing country, western and bluegrass music on his guitar, and his favorite movie was Lawrence of Arabia.
“He was a very decent, kind man, very dedicated to protecting and providing for the ones he loved,” his son said.
Smith, 19, started her first job at FedEx two weeks ago. According to The Indianapolis Star, this paycheck was supposed to be her first.
“She was a lovely, beautiful and youthful teenage girl,” an unnamed family member told The Indianapolis Star. “She had just started to buckle down and get a job and take life a little more serious[ly].”
Smith graduated from Crispus Attucks High School in 2020, where she played softball. “Sometimes she was a catcher, but they’d put her in center field or third base because she was tall,” Brandon Smith, her brother, told The New York Times.
Smith’s family shared in a Facebook post that they last heard from her at 10:59 p.m. on the night of the shooting, according to The Indianapolis Star. They later discovered that “she didn’t make it.”
Her brother told The New York Times that he wasn’t aware of Smith’s new job at FedEx. He had heard about the shooting, but did not know about her presence at the site until their parents called him.
Matthew R. Alexander
Alexander, 32, had worked at FedEx for several years and just recently bought a house. A former colleague of his, Albert Ashcraft, described him as enthusiastic and well-liked.
“He was a great kid. He loved to play golf. Had a big heart — always had a smile on his face,” Ashcraft told The Indianapolis Star. “Whatever it took to make a truck driver happy, that’s what he did. He was just not the ordinary dispatcher. He was a good kid. Thirty-two years old, you know, got shorted out of life as far as I’m concerned. It’s really sad.”
According to Ashcraft, Alexander was a hard worker who always helped out his coworkers. “Everybody liked him,” Ashcraft said. “He was always saving somebody’s ass. He was always doing something.”
Butler University identified Alexander as an alum in a Tweet, extending its condolences to his family and friends.
Blackwell, 19, was described as a “fun-loving, caring daughter” in a statement by Jeff and Tammi Blackwell, her parents. She first began working at FedEx two months ago and applied her determination to every aspect of her life.
“Samaria was tenacious in everything she did, from playing basketball and soccer to being a lifeguard for Indy Parks,” her parents wrote according to The Indianapolis Star. “On the court or the soccer field, she had a tough game face, but that quickly turned to a smile outside of competition.”
They also described Blackwell as a lover of other people. She would often spend time listening to or serving “the older generation,” mulching flower beds and hanging Christmas decorations.
Her dream was to become a police officer. “As an intelligent, straight A student, Samaria could have done anything she chose to put her mind to, and because she loved helping people, she dreamed of becoming a police officer,” her parents wrote. “Although that dream has been cut short, we believe that right now she is rejoicing in heaven with her Savior.”