Brandon Scott Hole, 19, a former worker at the Indianapolis FedEx facility, killed eight people on April 15 before killing himself. Four of those killed were Sikhs, including three women.
The memorial service on Saturday was opened with ardaas, a Sikh prayer. “We are so thankful to everyone who came together to attend and help put on this important event,” said Balwinder Singh, an Indianapolis Sikh community leader.
“What happened on April 15 is a tragedy that forever altered too many lives, and only by coming together to grieve, honour, and call for action can we move forward,” he said. The event, held at a city stadium, featured city, state and federal representatives, Indianapolis-area interfaith leaders and Sikh community members.
“As your governor, I stand with you in support of the Sikh community, with each of the families of the victims, with the hundreds of others who are feeling the impact of this tragedy, and with our law enforcement and first responders who face it daily so most of us don’t have to,” Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb said.
“And we stand with this city and the entire community, still reeling from the impact of that terrible day. I’m grateful for each person here today to honour lives so tragically lost, to show support for survivors and to extend a comforting hand to the families and friends who were taken from us far too soon,” he said.
Several of Indiana’s congressional representatives sent letters of support that were read aloud at the event. President Joe Biden also wrote a letter of support, IndyStar reported. The letter was read by Erika Moritsugu, deputy assistant to the president and Asian American and Pacific Islander senior liaison.
“To the people of Indiana, I share the heartbreak you are experiencing after such senseless violence pierced your community and our nation’s soul once again,” Biden wrote. “They were our friends and neighbours. They were immigrants and fellow Americans, seeking their piece of the American dream.”
Komal Chohan, whose grandmother was killed during the shooting, said: “It makes us feel like we’re not alone.”
“We don’t know if this was bias-related. It feels good to know that not everybody views us in that manner and not everybody sees us as outsiders,” Chohan said. There are an estimated 8,000-10,000 Sikhs in Indiana. Though Sikhs began settling in the state more than 50 years ago, the first gurdwara was not established until 1999. There are 10 gurdwaras in the state now.
Police have not identified a motive for the shooting, yet. It is unclear if the shooter was targeting Sikhs. The memorial service was jointly organised by the Sikh community in Indianapolis, with the support of national Sikh organisations including the Sikh Coalition, United Sikhs, and the Sikh American Legal Defence and Education Fund.