By a Biometrica Staffer
On the 14th anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre, in which 32 people were killed and 17 others wounded, the United States woke up to the news of yet another mass shooting on Friday, April 16, this time one at a FedEx warehouse at 8951 Mirabel Rd, Indianapolis, not far from Indianapolis International Airport. The first reports of the shooting apparently began around 11pm local time Thursday.
By the end of Thursday night’s rampage, eight people, in addition to the shooter, later reported to be a 19-year-old male named Brandon Scott Hole, were dead, and five people had been taken to area hospitals with gunshot injuries. The shooter also died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Reports from witnesses stated that the shooter might have been a former employee, but this has not been confirmed either by FedEx or by law enforcement, who are working to identify the victims and the shooter.
The Gun Violence Archive, which documents every reported incident of gun violence in the United States, collecting this information from more than 7,500 law enforcement, media, government and commercial sources daily, in an effort to provide near-real time data about the results of gun violence, has the Indianapolis shooting classified as a “workplace shooting (disgruntled employee).” This is a developing story, however, and this information could change.
Of the 12 mass shootings this year, three have happened in Indianapolis itself. There have been 12 mass casualty events — defined as four or more killed, excluding the shooter — in 2021 so far. Besides this one, these incidents have taken place in Illinois on Jan. 9, Indiana Jan. 24, Oklahoma on Feb. 2, Indiana on March 13, Arizona and Georgia on March 16, Colorado on March 22, Maryland March 28, California on March 31, Texas on April 4, and South Carolina on April 7.
This FedEx facility is reportedly FedEx Corporation’s second largest express ground facility, employing more than 4,500 people, according to media reports. Just to get an idea of why that is relevant in the FedEx world, FedEx Corp. is headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, and operates more than 1,950 FedEx stations, 13 Air Express hubs, 39 ground hubs, more than 600 FedEx Ground operating facilities, 370 freight service centers, and 2,200 FedEx Office locations. They have an estimated 600,000 team members. FedEx Corp released a brief statement shortly after news of the incident broke in the early hours of Friday morning. “We are deeply shocked and saddened by the loss of our team members following the tragic shooting at our FedEx Ground facility in Indianapolis. 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.”
Frederick W. Smith, the Chairman and CEO of FedEx Corporation, released a signed statement, saying that the company’s priority right now was to focus on the “the situation on the ground” and help team members and law enforcement. “We have a team onsite in Indianapolis to provide support, and we are making counselors available,” he said.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said, “In times like this, words like justice and sorrow fall short in response for those senselessly taken.”
Even while the debate over gun control surges, President Joe Biden has made it clear that gun violence is a focus of his administration. Earlier this month, on April 8, he announced an initial set of measures to take on what he called “an epidemic” of gun violence. This came mere hours after a shooting in Rock Hill, South Carolina, claimed six lives in another senseless act of violence and a particularly bloody March, which saw several mass shootings as the United States appeared to be returning to business as usual after the pandemic.
While the debate over gun control and gun violence takes on even more urgency, there appears to be no letup in people wanting to own guns. This has resulted in the FBI conducting more background checks for individuals wanting to buy firearms in the first quarter of 2021 than over corresponding periods in the five previous years.
The FBI ran more than 12.45 million background checks in the period between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2021, significantly more than the 9.24 million checks run over the same period in 2020 and almost double the 6.86 million background checks run through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), in Q1 of 2019. The first quarter of 2018 saw 7.13 million checks through the NICS, while there were 6.71 million in 2017 and 7.68 million in 2016.
The 4,691,738 background checks run between March 1 and 31 — exactly a year after the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic threw life into a tailspin — is also a record in its own. We looked at NICS data back to December 1998, the first month for which the permanent provisions of background check requirements under what’s called the Brady Act kicked in, and March 2021 appears to be the highest ever month on record for firearm background checks run through the NICS. The only other month that crossed 4 million was January 2021, which saw 4,317,804 background checks run.