A U.S. prosecutor says the gunman who killed eight people at an Indianapolis FedEx sorting facility last week never had a hearing under Indiana's "red flag" law, which allows police to seize guns from people who may be prone to commit violent acts.
Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears told reporters Monday that police questioned the shooter, Brandon Hole, in March 2020 after his mother called police saying he might commit "suicide by cop."
He said police seized Hole's pump-action shotgun at the time but did not request that he appear before a judge under the state's "red flag" law.
Mears said that moving forward with the red flag process was risky because if prosecutors lost, they would have had to return the firearm to Hole.
"That's not something we were willing to do," Mears said.
Police have said that they never returned the weapon to Hole.
However, had prosecutors won their case, Mears might have been prevented from purchasing further weapons. The teenager legally bought two assault rifles just months after his shotgun was confiscated.
Mears said the fact that Hole's mother believed her son may have been suicidal and wanted to provoke a lethal response from police was not sufficient evidence to pursue an order from a judge under the red flag law.
"I think this case illustrates the limitations" of the law, Mears said.
Indiana was one of the first states to enact a red flag law in 2005 after an Indianapolis police officer was killed by a gunman whose firearms were returned to him despite having been previously hospitalized for mental health issues.
The state's red flag law gives authorities two weeks after seizing someone's weapon to make a case to a judge that the person should not be allowed to possess a gun. Mears said the timeline often doesn't give authorities enough time to investigate.
Police have said Hole was a former FedEx employee who last worked at the facility in the fall of 2020. They say it is not clear why Hole returned to his former place of employment and opened fire.
Police said Hole shot randomly at victims outside the facility before entering the building and continuing to shoot at employees. Hole then apparently killed himself. Authorities said the shooting lasted only a couple of minutes and was over by the time police officers arrived on the scene.