INDIANAPOLIS – Days away from the one-year anniversary of the deadly mass shooting at an Indianapolis FedEx facility, attorneys for five of the victims announced a lawsuit.
The shooting happened on the night of April 15, 2021, at the FedEx Ground facility on Mirabel Road. A former employee opened fire, killing eight people before turning the gun on himself. Five other people were injured.
The lawsuit names FedEx Corporation; FedEx Ground Package System, Inc.; Federal Express Corporation; FedEx Corporate Services, Inc.; and Securitas Security Services, USA.
It’s being filed on behalf of the families of Amerjeet Johal, Amarjit Sekhon, Jasvinder Kaur, John Weisert and Karli Smith.
The lawsuit alleges inadequate security and negligence in keeping employees at the facility safe, both before and during the shooting.
Attorney Mel Hewitt, an Atlanta-based lawyer representing the families, called the shooting preventable. The lawsuit was filed Monday morning.
Dan Chamberlain, an Indianapolis-based attorney, is also representing the victims.
“These types of situations cannot continue in the United States, let alone in the state of Indiana,” Chamberlain said of the shooting.
The attorneys said the Indianapolis shooting was not the first at a FedEx Ground facility. Hewitt and Chamberlain pointed to a 2014 shooting at a FedEx facility in Kennesaw, Georgia, from 2014. Six people were shot in that case, none fatally, when a former employee opened fire.
Hewitt prosecuted the claims in that case, representing several of the people who were shot. The attorneys argued that the company should have taken more precautions after the 2014 incident.
“So FedEx has been put on notice that frankly this is something that is preventable,” Chamberlain said. “Had they followed their own policies and procedures, this would never have occurred.”
The victims weren’t on duty at the time of the shooting, the attorneys said. They’d either punched out and were done for the day or had just arrived to clock in for their shift. They’re calling for reasonable measures to protect workers.
The shooter, for example, entered the facility through an unrestricted, ungated parking area adjacent to the facility. He then exited his vehicle and made his way to the entrance, where he was confronted by security.
He demanded to see a manager, made a commotion, and then went back to his car. After sitting in the vehicle for a few minutes, he emerged with a gun, shot at employees in the parking area and then entered the facility, shooting several more people.
Family members of the victims said they’ve never recovered from the tragedy and believe more could’ve been done to protect their loved ones.
Gary Johal, the youngest son of Amerjeet Johal, said his mother was “the world” to her family.
“She was one of the strongest pillars of the family that brought the whole family together,” Johal said of his mother. “The most selfless person you could ever meet. I guess if you wanted me to compare her to someone, she was the most selfless person you could ever meet that can be compared to God. If you know what God is like, then you know what my mother is like.”
Johal said he’s still processing her loss, calling it “one of the biggest devastations” for the family. He believes multiple parties need to be held accountable for her death.
Matthew D. Alexander, the father of Karli Smith, called the loss of his daughter “extremely traumatic” for the entire family.
“It’s an ongoing process for me to try to comprehend because no one should have to bury their child,” Alexander said.
He hoped the tragedy would prompt even slight changes to protect workers and prevent a future shooting at FedEx or any other business.
Hewitt and Chamberlain maintain FedEx didn’t have enough security measures in place. Former and past employees had expressed concerns about their safety before the shooting.
One interesting component of the lawsuit is the lack of records, the attorney alleged, from law enforcement agencies. They claimed their open records requests were effectively ignored. They believe filing a lawsuit will compel a federal judge to grant them access to things like crime scene photos, witness interviews and surveillance video.
“That’s part of the complaint,” Hewitt said of the lawsuit. “We would’ve liked to have explained more but we can’t because we have not been given access to everything that law enforcement has.”
The attorneys said they had no plans to involve the city of Indianapolis, Marion County or the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office in their lawsuit. The prosecutor’s office, in particular, has faced tough questions about the state’s red flag law and why the FedEx shooter was able to purchase and possess firearms despite warnings about his instability and mental health.
While representatives of five of the eight victims are currently part of the lawsuit, the remaining victims’ family could still join the suit, the attorneys said. Other defendants could also be added to the lawsuit.
“If people want to join the lawsuit, they’re invited to join with us and work together. It just makes sense,” Chamberlain said.
For the victims’ families, the hurt will never go away—and the sense that it could have been prevented will gnaw at them forever.
“My mother was everything to me,” Johal said. “I can’t see myself moving forward at this moment, at least not without the justice we deserve.”
Since the shooter killed himself, there is no criminal case to provide closure. For Alexander, justice will be the prevention of a similar shooting happening in the future.
“There are at least eight different lights that have gone out in this world needlessly. And that could have been prevented, so we want to make sure that doesn’t happen to anybody else,” Alexander said.
Both Johal and Alexander described their loss as a “never-ending” struggle.
Asked about the possibility of the shooting as a hate crime, Johal said he didn’t believe the Sikh community was targeted. Still, he believes the shooting was motivated by hate.
“There was some kind of hate in his heart that made him go out and commit this,” Johal said of the shooter. “It shouldn’t have happened.”
Johal said some of the FedEx workers in the Sikh community never returned to work after the shooting because they feared for their safety.
“Being a large corporation, you should have all your security measures covered, all your security angles covered, especially someone who’s coming in and causing a havoc.”