Joti Kaur Rekhi: Sikhs Demand Greater Investigation As New Details Emerge On Indianapolis Shooter's Ties To White Supremacy
The Sikh Coalition’s calls for a “comprehensive and thorough investigation into the shooter’s motive” comes as new information detailing the Indianapolis gunman's ties to white supremacy are revealed
Joti Kaur Rekhi
April 21, 2021 | 5 min. read
New efforts by the Sikh Coalition urging investigators and lawmakers to take further actions relating to the April 15 FedEx massacre are shedding light on what witnesses saw and experienced.
The New York-based advocacy group renewed their efforts to seek transparency and justice for the eight victims, their families, and the Sikh community by writing three separate letters to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief and FBI Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge, state lawmakers, and federal lawmakers on Tuesday.
The Coalition’s calls for a “comprehensive and thorough investigation into the shooter’s motive” comes as new information, detailing 19-year-old gunman Brandon Hole’s ties to white supremacy, are revealed by IMPD.
In a police report dated March 3, 2020, investigators arrived at Hole’s Indianapolis home after his mother feared he would commit suicide. Before he was taken into police custody, Hole “became immediately anxious and stated, ‘Please just turn the power strip off on my computer’” and “‘I don’t want anyone to see what’s on it.’”
The report further reads that Officer Paul Humphry “observed what through his training and experience indicated was white supremacist websites.” The Sergeant in Criminal Intelligence was informed of the content.
This was more than one year before Hole opened fire on his former place of employment, killing four members of the Sikh faith. The facility is widely known to employ a majority of Sikhs and Punjabis, many of whom recently immigrated from India.
On April 16, the day after the tragic events, Special Agent Keenan released a statement that read, “Based on items observed in the suspect’s bedroom at that time, he was interviewed by the FBI in April 2020. No racially Motivated Violent Extremism (RMVE) ideology was identified during the course of the assessment and no criminal violation was found.”
In a statement released by the Sikh Coalition, Amrith Kaur Aakre, Legal Director said, “We now know that this statement does not accurately reflect all of the facts of this case, and are seeking full transparency by the investigating agencies. Additionally, to further this investigation, it is imperative that all witnesses to the shooting be interviewed by law enforcement immediately.”
The letter the Coalition sent to investigators provides eye-opening details about what witnesses went through in those mere minutes in which 8 identified employees were killed and many more were injured.
Aakre wrote, “One eyewitness account includes information that Mr. Hole told a white woman running towards him to get out of the way, just after having shot a Sikh man in the face. Additional eyewitness reports indicate that, once inside the facility, Mr. Hole was able to see through the glass doors into the area where employees were collecting paychecks, and poked his gun through a hole in order to aim and fire at a turbaned Sikh man, Mr. Jaswinder Singh. The room was filled with Sikh workers, and Mr. Hole continued to bang and scream at them to let him in to kill them all.”
Baaz has previously reported that 68-year-old Jaswinder Singh recently immigrated from India and began working at the plant the week before he was killed.
The Sikh Coalition calls on investigators to interview additional witnesses and survivors to learn more about what they saw the night of the attack. It further implores them to undertake a thorough and transparent investigation and determine if bias played a role in Hole’s actions.
The Coalition wrote that it has “received at least one email from an individual praising Mr. Hole as a hero, specifically related to his murder of Sikhs, and encouraging another mass shooting event.”
Baaz has also reported that Hole arrived at the facility during a time in which employees were ending their shifts or taking their break. According to IMPD, Hole was fired from FedEx when he “failed to return to work” last October.
In its letter to state and federal lawmakers, The Sikh Coalition wrote:
“It was no accident that the shooter targeted this particular FedEx facility where he had previously worked and knew was overwhelmingly staffed by Sikhs. This was not a crime of convenience or a spur-of-the-moment attack; it was one of methodical planning and selection. As such, we implore your office to help ensure that there is an unfettered investigation into motive, without leaving any stone unturned regarding bias as a motivating factor. We also ask that your office ensure that these concerns are not prematurely dismissed.”
People from across the diaspora have been raising their voices about what they perceive as a targeted attack.
For many, the mass killing brought up unresolved pain experienced after Wade Michael Page killed six Sikhs and injured several others at the Oak Creek Gurdwara shooting in 2012.
Rupinder Singh, the founder of the blog American Turban, said he felt like history was repeating itself.
“Shortly after the murders, the FBI came out and said that this attack wasn't part of an attack by a white supremacist group,” said Singh.
Like Hole, Page also committed suicide after killing members of the Sikh faith. Singh says calls from the Sikh community on addressing white supremacist violence need to be louder this time around.
“I think Keenan's statement is reflective of the deficiencies in our legal system in tackling white supremacist violence. Again, it seems to reflect the "lone wolf" rationalization that allows white supremacy to escape without consequence,” said Singh. “We need more systemic accountability and action on addressing the white supremacist violence that is predictable and inevitable when the movement is left unchecked.”
The Coalition also referred to Hole’s penchant for violence, which was demonstrated in the March 3, 2020, IMPD report.
Hole’s mother said she did not know her son had money to purchase a gun when she took him to a gun shop the day before she sought out IMPD’s assistance on March 3, 2020.
When she asked what he was going to do with it, “Brandon became angry and struck his mother with a closed fist in the arm and told her to shut up.” When his mother further pressed him about what he was going to do with the gun he said, “This is not the life I want to live I’ll end it my way.” He further said, “I am going to point this unloaded gun at the police and they will shoot me.”
According to the report, Hole’s mother said he “gets very angry and she fears for her safety.”
Police report that Hole said he did not want the gun, and it was not returned to him. It remains in police possession. However, Hole was able to purchase two additional guns later on in 2020. He purchased one in September and the other in July.
Hole’s family apologized for the tragedy in a statement released on Saturday.
Joti Kaur Rekhi recently obtained her MSc in International Public Policy from UCL in London. Her research focused on the disappearances and extrajudicial executions that occurred in Punjab following the Sikh Genocide of 1984. Prior to returning to school, she worked as a local television reporter for five years. Advocating for others has always been at the core of her work. She remains a voice for the voiceless. You can find Joti on Twitter at @ThisIsJoti.
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