Law enforcement says too early to assign motive in the shooting that killed at least eight people and wounded five others.
Indianapolis authorities are still working to inform families of their loved ones’ safety on Friday following an overnight mass shooting that killed at last eight people, the mayor and other officials said at a press conference.
The shooting took place at a FedEx facility and the gunman is presumed to have shot himself.
A FedEx employee, Levi Miller, told NBC’s “Today” he saw a “hooded figure” holding what appeared to be an AR-style semi-automatic rifle who shouted and opened fire outside the facility.
Authorities did not give further information on motive, or the weapon used, as the investigation is ongoing with the assistance of the FBI.
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett told reporters the city has “our victim assistance counselors, we have our chaplains at a nearby hotel … which is where we had family meet them. Obviously there are families who are still trying to locate loved ones and family members so we continue to stand by their side until such time when we can either locate those family members or identify them as a victim that we have on scene”.
Hogsett said White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain had reached out via text.
Klain is a “North Central High School grad from Indianapolis, Indiana, so it was not at all unusual that he would reach out to me”, Hogsett said. “Basically the offer was ‘anything you need, mayor. We stand ready to assist.’”
In a statement, President Joe Biden said “Last night and into the morning in Indianapolis, yet again families had to wait to hear word about the fate of their loved ones. What a cruel wait and fate that has become too normal and happens every day somewhere in our nation.
“Gun violence is an epidemic in America. But we should not accept it. We must act,” he added.
Biden has made a recent push for increased gun control regulations, including universal background checks, which he calls “common sense”. The White House ordered flags flown at half staff out of respect for the victims on Friday.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a Friday briefing that Biden believes gun violence is “a public health crisis, it’s destroying communities across the country. He’s also been working on this issue for decades, and … he would tell you that we can’t give up just because it’s hard”.
Psaki called into question a lack of legislative action on the issue, even though “more than 80 percent of the public supports universal background checks, and yet the Senate has not moved forward.”
Vice President Kamala Harris told reporters on Friday there is “no question this violence must end”.
FBI Indianapolis: Shooting motive? Premature to speculate. FBI is assisting with searches, other local law enforcement efforts @WTHRcom
— Allison Gormly (@ChasingAllison) April 16, 2021
When asked what moves he would like to see, Hogsett told reporters he signed a letter with over 150 US mayors asking for the United States Senate to consider legislation that would expand background checks to be required when firearms are transferred between private citizens.
The US has seen a recent increase in mass shootings as the country begins to open following a year of widespread closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The shooting at the FedEx facility was the third such event this year in Indianapolis. Five people, including a pregnant woman, were shot and killed in January, and a man was accused of killing three adults and a child before abducting his daughter during an argument at a home in March.