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Words of grief, calls to action at vigil for victims of FedEx mass shooting

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — More than 200 people attended a candlelight vigil for the victims of the mass shooting at a FedEx facility on Saturday night, including Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, U.S. Rep. Andre Carson and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Chief Randal Taylor.

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.

The event began with a prayer from pastor Ryan Heathco, lead minister at Ben Davis Christian Church. Before the prayer, Heathco emphasized the importance of being willing to “change something about gun violence and about mental health in our community.”

Hogsett was next to speak and said he had spent with his last 40 hours with family members of victims across the city, Hogsett said, from the scene of the shooting, to the hotels where families waited to learn news of their loved ones, to neighborhoods where those victims had lived.

“I have to be honest. I keep coming back to one question: ‘Loving God, what more can we take?’ Perhaps we are all asking that question. In desperation, in sadness, even in despair,” Hogsett said.

Hogsett said what was supposed to be a celebration of “200 years of community in our city” has become “a gauntlet of unprecedented challenges.”

“Some were grandparents, some had not yet turned 20 years old,” Hogsett said of the victims. “Some grew up here, some had chosen Indianapolis as their home. Four of them were members of our local Sikh community. One even worked for the city in a park just like this one, a lifeguard in a neighborhood pool. And all of them, they worked together. Even though we may not have known them, we do love them.”

He vowed that Indianapolis would persevere as a community where people care for each other as a way to honor the victims.

Carson spoke next, focusing on the impact the “nationwide epidemic of gun violence” has had across the U.S. and saying a failure to take action in response would be “an insult to Hoosiers.”

“This is not the first time that Hoosiers have felt this intense grief and pain,” Carson said. “It’s not even, unfortunately, the first mass shooting in our community. I also know that the suspected shooter should have never had access to a deadly weapon. The loss of life here in Indianapolis is real. It’s real in Boulder. It’s real in Atlanta, and in countless other communities.”

Taylor thanked first responders and nearby hotels who opened their doors to family members of victims. He referenced scripture, specifically 1 Corinthians 10, as encouragement that the Indianapolis community is capable of handling any challenges it may encounter.

While his remarks were filled with positive messages, Taylor made it clear he knew some hopeful words won’t make the pain disappear.

“This is not something [the victims’ families will] ever forget; it’s nothing that they’re going to get past all that quickly,” he said. “But I’m hopeful that they’ll remember the good times they had with their loved ones. Hopefully they will remember the way IMPD tried to take care of them.”

City-County Council President Vop Osili shared that he had celebrated his mother’s 97th birthday with his family earlier on Saturday, and everyone should expect to live to that age. He called on those in positions of authority to have “that adult discussion” to address gun violence “because we should not be standing here again.”

Aasees Kaur with the Sikh Coalition spoke on behalf of the families of Amarjit Sekhon and Jasvinder Kaur: “In these moments of mourning, it is togetherness and unity that sustain us and prepare us for the long haul of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing. Yet we also gather tonight because horrific events like Thursday’s shooting call us to action.”

“We must support one another, not just in grief, but in calling our policymakers and officials to make meaningful change. The time to act is not later but now. We are far too many tragedies too late in doing so,” Kaur said.