INDIANAPOLIS — Police on Friday were seeking a motive and working to identify the gunman and victims in a shooting that killed at least eight people at a FedEx facility late Thursday.
Police responded to the FedEx Ground facility on the city’s southwest side just after 11 p.m. Thursday for a report of shots fired at a business. Police encountered “a very chaotic and active crime scene” after a gunman fired at random both inside and outside the facility, Indianapolis Deputy Police Chief Craig McCartt said at a news conference Friday.
McCartt said the suspect appeared to have died by suicide moments before police arrived. While police have an idea of who the gunman was and are searching his house, McCartt said police were not able to formally identify him yet.
Four people died outside and four died inside, plus the shooter, McCartt said. Five other people were injured in the incident, four with gunshot wounds and one with another injury, McCartt said.
The coroner’s office has not been able to get onto the scene to identify the victims and inform family members until police finish collecting evidence at the scene, said Alfarena McGinty, chief deputy coroner for Marion County.
McCartt said the investigation is “very much in its infancy” and that it will take more time for crime scene authorities to process the scene.
“The eyes of the nation are on Indianapolis today in ways that we would never have hoped for,” Mayor Joe Hogsett said Friday.
Here’s what we know Friday:
What happened during the shooting?
McCartt said Friday the shooting occurred over a short period of time.
“This suspect came to the facility, he got out of his car and pretty quickly started some random shooting outside the facility,” McCartt said.
“Then, he did go into the facility for brief time before he took his own life,” McCartt added.
Levi Miller, who works at the FedEx facility, told the “TODAY” show he was eating with co-workers when they heard several gunshots.
“I assumed it was a muzzle problem with a car,” he said. Miller was outside the building and then heard more than a dozen more shots fired rapidly. He stood up and saw a “hooded figure.”
“The man did have an (assault rifle) in his hand, and he started shouting and then he started firing at random directions,” Miller told “TODAY.”
Miller said he thought the gunman saw him so he ducked for cover. He added that his friends at work told him another man not initially involved pulled out a gun from his truck to “try and engage the shooter.”
At the news conference, McCartt said he had not heard from officers in his department about whether another employee tried to engage the shooter but did not rule it out as a possibility.
Timothy Bouillat, who also works at the facility, told the Washington Post a similar account of how the shooting unfolded and seeing someone who confronted the gunman being shot.
“I’m trying to process what happened and not lose composure,” Bouillat told the Post. “It could have been me. I could have been the one on the floor, not being able to see my twin boys again.”
Leer en español:Lo que sabemos sobre tiroteo en instalación de FedEx en Indy que dejó al menos 8 muertos
Who are the FedEx victims?
Eight people are dead and five people were injured and hospitalized. At least one person remained in critical condition at 3 a.m. Friday. Other injured people took themselves to hospitals in the area, said Genae Cook, spokesperson for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
No law enforcement officers were among the wounded, Cook said.
Police established a family unification center at the Holiday Inn a mile from the warehouse, for those that had not heard from loved ones. Many employees did not have cell phones on them adding to the confusion, McCartt said. The New York Times reported FedEx has a policy that employees must give up their phones before beginning work on the floor.
Several hours after the shooting, family members sat in the hotel lobby waiting to hear if their loved ones who worked at the ground facility were OK. Some had pajamas on. One man had a sleeping child covered in a blanket on his shoulder. They wore masks to protect themselves from COVID-19.
The scene inside the Holiday Inn’s ballroom was nothing short of “chaos,” other family members said.
“I’m just worried about my father,” Ashlee Floyd said. Her father has worked at the FedEx facility near the airport for two decades. He usually calls his wife at 11:25 p.m., but didn’t call on Thursday, she said. “I don’t know if he’s OK. I don’t know if he’s injured. I don’t know if he’s gone. I’m just scared right now.”
As of 10:30 a.m., McGinty said coroner’s officials were “still a number of hours out” from being able to process the scene and begin formal identification of victims.
‘I don’t know if he’s OK’: Families wait to hear of loved ones who work at FedEx facility
Who is the suspect?
Authorities have not identified the gunman, who was found dead in what is believed to be a suicide nearby. It is unknown if the shooter was a FedEx employee or what his motive was.
McCartt said police believe a rifle was used during the shooting.
What to know about Indianapolis and the FedEx facility
The FedEx Indianapolis hub, which employs more than 4,500 team members, is the second-largest hub in the company’s global network, a representative told the IndyStar, part of the USA TODAY Network, in March.
Indianapolis, the capital of Indiana, is about three hours (about 180 miles) southwest of Chicago and less than two hours (about 110 miles) west of Cincinnati.
What FedEx is saying
FedEx issued a statement after the incident on Twitter, saying it is cooperating with authorities and working to get more information.
“We are deeply shocked and saddened by the loss of our team members following the tragic shooting at our FedEx Ground facility in Indianapolis,” FedEx wrote in another statement released shortly after 4 a.m. “Our most heartfelt sympathies are with all those affected by this senseless act of violence. The safety of our team members is our top priority, and we are fully cooperating with investigating authorities.”
‘Why does this keep happening?’ Mass shootings in Boulder and Atlanta expose loopholes, weaknesses in gun laws
Contributing: Alexandria Burris and Sarah Nelson, Indy Star; Elinor Aspergren, USA TODAY