FedEx shooting victims: Family, friends share memories
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — They were mothers, fathers, grandparents, daughters, sons and beloved spouses, killed Thursday night when a gunman opened fire at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis.
Those victims were identified by police as: Matthew R. Alexander, 32; Samaria Blackwell, 19; Amarjeet Johal, 66; Jasvinder Kaur, 50; Jaswinder Singh, 68; Amarjit Sekhon, 48; Karli Smith, 19; John Weisert, 74.
Here’s how the victims are being remembered:
John Steve Weisert, husband of nearly 50 years
On Friday afternoon, Carol Weisert was still looking for her husband, Steve.
Later that day she learned he died in the shooting.
Carol Weisert spoke to News 8 as she waited at the Holiday Inn Indianapolis Airport with dozens of others who awaited news about their own family members after a 19-year-old, former FedEx employee fatally shot eight people and injured others before shooting himself late Thursday night.
“My hope is that he’s alive. You know, even if he’s injured, at least he’s alive. I can nurse him back to him back to health,” Weisert said.
Her husband, John Steve Weisert, had been working as a bag handler at FedEx for four years. The pair has been married nearly 50 years, and her hope was that they’d reach that milestone.
“When it first happened and they called and said that it was a shooting — just fear, just chills down my spine,” Weisert said.
Many who waited with Weisert are part of the Indianapolis Sikh community, as were four of the eight people who died in the shooting, the Sikh Coalition said.
On Saturday, News 8’s Richard Essex spent time with members of the Sikh community. Four members of the Indianapolis Sikh community were killed in the shooting. Relatives of those victims talked to News 8 about their loved ones and their loss.
Amarjeet Kaur Johal, beloved grandmother
Amarjeet Kaur Johal, 66, is a grandmother; her grandchildren called her Naniji.
She was one of multiple people in her family who worked at this specific facility, her family told News 8’s Sierra Hignite.
One of her grandchildren said his uncle was at the facility during the shooting, hiding under a table from the gunman. The person next to him was hit with one of the bullets and fell to the ground. His uncle narrowly escaped.
Leaders in the Sikh community say this loss is devastating to the entire community.
Jaswinder Singh, who had just started working at FedEx
Through a translator, Gurinder Bains talked about his father, Jaswinder Singh, who had just started at FedEx and hadn’t yet collected his first check.
“He was a gentleman, always loved his kids and walking and the whole community loved him. He just started a week ago and he was really excited. I asked him, ‘You don’t need to work.’ He said, ‘I can’t stay at home, I need to go and do some work,’” said Bains.
Sihk community representatives told News 8 that roughly 90% of the employees at this FedEx are Sikh. They say that’s because it’s easy to get a job and the language barrier isn’t as wide. With the tightknit Sikh population continuing to grow in Indianapolis this tragedy is impacting everyone.
Karli Smith, 2020 graduate of George Washington High School
Indianapolis Public Schools released a statement about Karli Smith, 19, a 2020 graduate of George Washington High School.
“Indianapolis Public Schools is devastated to learn about the loss of Karli Smith by this latest round of gun violence. Karli was a longtime IPS student and graduate. She attended Daniel Webster School 46 through most of elementary and middle school, and Crispus Attucks and George Washington high schools. She graduated in 2020 from George Washington, where she was known as a hardworking and dedicated student. While at Crispus Attucks, she played on the softball team and was loved by her teammates and coaches. She also played basketball and volleyball during middle school at Daniel Webster. Administrators, teachers and classmates remember Karli for her sense of humor that often generated smiles and laughter. Karli was a bright light wherever she went. She will be dearly missed by all throughout IPS who knew and loved her.“
Indianapolis Public Schools
Karli Smith’s brother, Brandon Smith, talked to News 8’s Demie Johnson at a Sunday vigil at Monument Circle and shared a photo of his sister.
Samaria Blackwell, lifeguard at Indy Parks
The parents of Samaria Blackwell, 19, released a statement thanking the community for their support.
“We are thankful for the outpouring of love and support for our family. We are also praying for the families of the other victims of this tragedy. As Samaria’s parents, we were blessed by the Lord to have such a fun-loving, caring daughter as the baby of our family. Being the baby, she looked up to her siblings Elijah, Levi, and Michaiah, who, along with her dog Jasper, will miss her immensely. Samaria was tenacious in everything she did, from playing basketball and soccer to being a lifeguard for Indy Parks. On the court or the soccer field, she had a tough game face, but that quickly turned to a smile outside of competition. Samaria loved people, especially those of advanced age. She always found time to invest in the older generation, whether it was by listening or serving. She spent many hours helping Memaw Sue, from mulching flower beds to setting up Christmas decorations. As an intelligent, straight A student, Samaria could have done anything she chose to put her mind to, and because she loved helping people, she dreamed of becoming a police officer. Although that dream has been cut short, we believe that right now she is rejoicing in heaven with her Savior. Philippians 1:6 says, “I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion…” For Samaria, that work is completed and she is sitting with Jesus today. On this side of heaven we grieve, but not as those who have no hope, for we recognize Samaria’s life has only just begun.”
Jeff and Tammi Blackwell
Indy Parks released a statement saying Blackwell was a dedicated lifeguard and Indy Parks team member.
“The entire Indy Parks team expresses heartfelt sympathy to the family and friends of Samaria Blackwell, who served with such grace and dedication as a lifeguard and fellow Indy Parks team member. We are saddened to learn of her death and remain grateful for her service at Garfield and Bethel Parks, and most recently, Indy Island Aquatic Center. She kept her colleagues laughing and easily made friends across the department. Samaria was a joy to work with, and her parks family will miss her dearly. We extend our thoughts and prayers to all of the FedEx shooting victims and their families, and hope together as a community, as a parks department, and as a city that we comfort and encourage each other during this time.”
Matthew Alexander, former Avon High School baseball player
Avon High School Athletics on Saturday honored Matthew Alexander, 32.
Members of Alexander’s family and several of his former teammates attended the Avon Orioles’ game on Saturday.
Alexander graduated in 2007 and was a member of the baseball team. The school’s head varsity baseball coach, Troy Drosche, remembers Alexander as being a “coach’s dream” and “sports fanatic.”
“He had a very kind heart and that he loved sports. He was sports fanatic. You could always get him to talk more when he started talking sports or his beloved St. Louis Cardinals,” Drosche said.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Matt Alexander Memorial Baseball Scholarship Fund c/o Baker Funeral Home 387 E. Broadway St. Danville, IN 46122, the Alexander family said.
Sekhon was 48 years old. She was one of the victims mourned in an early Sunday morning service at a Sikh temple in Indianapolis. On Sunday evening, the families of the Sikh victims of the shooting were meeting with city officials to make arrangements to lay their loved ones to rest.