INDIANAPOLIS — The Sikh Coalition does not intend to file a lawsuit against the city of Indianapolis for failing to use the red flag Law to keep the FedEx mass shooter from buying guns.
In November, two victims and the family of a man killed in the FedEx mass shooting sent a notice to the City of Indianapolis about a possible lawsuit. They were seeking $2.1 million in compensation from the city over failing to file a red flag case against the shooter a year before the mass shooting.
Indianapolis had until Jan. 10 to respond that it would pay the compensation or deny it. The city did not respond, which is the same as issuing a denial, and allowed for the claimants to move forward with a lawsuit.
13News reached out to the Sikh Coalition for clarification on what it intended to do and received the following statement from Amrith Kaur Aakre, Sikh Coalition legal director:
"To reiterate, no lawsuit was ever filed against the city or county. As our investigation into last April's tragedy continued, we and our legal partners were statutorily required to submit a notice within a certain time period if we wanted to preserve the option of filing a lawsuit in the future. Through our investigation, we and our legal partners determined that a number of challenges would preclude us from moving forward on this particular path."
"We remain committed to providing resources and support to not just our clients but the broader Indianapolis Sikh community. Our ongoing work includes consulting on outstanding worker's compensation issues, facilitating available mental health resources, and looking ahead to the one year anniversary of this tragedy."
Eight people were killed and five wounded in the mass shooting April 15, 2021. Four of the eight killed were part of the Sikh community. Those include 68-year-old Jaswinder Singh, 66-year-old Amarjeet Kaur Johal, 50-year-old Jasvinder Kaur and 48-year-old Amarjit Sekhon. The other four victims were 19-year-old Karli Smith, 19-year-old Samaria Blackwell, 32-year-old Matthew R. Alexander and 74-year-old John Weisert.
The tort claim was filed on behalf of two victims in the FedEx mass shooting and the family of a man killed.
Harpreet Singh was shot in the head during the April 15 gunfire. The bullet is still lodged in the side of his skull. According to the letter sent to the city, he suffered "hospitalization, multiple surgical procedures, extensive rehabilitation, inability to work at full capacity, and continued physical and psychological injuries."
Lakhwinder Kaur had a bullet graze to her left arm. She was standing behind Jaswinder Singh when he was shot to death. The letter claims she has suffered from substantial psychological trauma.
Gurinder Bains is the son of Jaswinder Singh and was seeking compensation on behalf of his father's estate.
All three were seeking $700,000 in damages.
Why the red flag Law wasn't used with the FedEx shooter
Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears said in April that loopholes in Indiana's red flag law prevented the office from getting the information needed to determine the FedEx mass shooting suspect was dangerous and keep him from buying guns after a 2020 police call.
In that March 2020 incident, the suspect's mother was concerned he might attempt "suicide by cop." Police intervened, took the 19-year-old to the hospital and seized a shotgun he had purchased within 24 hours of that 2020 incident. That weapon was never returned to him.
The prosecutor's office said that because the family said it would not seek the return of the gun, that provision was not taken.
The prosecutor's office then looked to see if the suspect could be deemed a dangerous person. The office said it was a single incident, the individual was in the hospital for only a matter of hours before being released and that no medicine was prescribed.
Due to those factors, the prosecutor's office did not move forward with the red flag law to deem the suspect as dangerous.
Prosecutor Mears said because the state only has 14 days to move forward with a court filing, it limits their access to medical records and mental health records, especially when in Indiana, entities have 30 days to respond to a subpoena for records. Mears said that severely limits what they are able to do.
When asked about the red flag law working at keeping guns away from dangerous individuals, Mears said, "I think this case shows the limitations."
Without the red flag law being used, the FedEx suspect was able to purchase a rifle legally in July of 2020 and then another rifle in September of 2020.
Indiana's red flag Law
Indiana's red flag law allows the seizure and retention of firearms from dangerous and mentally ill persons.
Seizures can be made with or without a warrant, depending on probable cause. If it is with a warrant, the officer has to explain why the person is dangerous and needs a weapon taken away. If approved, it allows for the following:
- Seizure of the firearms
- Law enforcement retention of the firearms
- Suspension of the individual's license to carry handgun, if he or she has one; and
- Prohibition of the individual from renting, receiving transfer of, owning, or possessing firearms.
If it is without a warrant, later court approval is necessary and the officer needs to file an affidavit with the court.
- The affidavit must state the basis for the belief the person is dangerous.
- The affidavit must include information on quantity and type of firearms seized.
If the court finds the person is "dangerous," it:
- Shall order the law enforcement agency to retain the firearms;
- Shall order the suspension of the individual's license to carry handgun, if he or she has one;
- Shall enjoin the individual from renting, receiving transfer of, owning, or possessing firearms; and
- Determine whether the individual should be referred to further proceedings to consider an involuntary detention or commitment under IC 12-26-6-2(a)(2)(B).
If the court orders the firearms held, a person can file a petition after 180 days seeking a finding that they are no longer dangerous:
- If not later than one (1) year, individual must prove by a preponderance that he or she is no longer dangerous.
- If later than one (1) year, state must prove by clear and convincing evidence the individual is still dangerous.