INDIANAPOLIS — They sat packed in the Holiday Inn Express lobby, tired, tears in their eyes.
Several hours after eight people were shot to death at a FedEx facility late Thursday night, family members waited to hear if their loved ones who worked there were OK, if they were safe, if they were alive.
Some had pajamas on. One man had a sleeping child covered in a blanket on his shoulder. They wore masks to protect themselves from COVID-19.
“I’m just worried about my father,” Ashlee Floyd said. Her father has worked at the FedEx facility near the airport for two decades. He usually calls his wife at 11:25 p.m., but didn’t call on Thursday, she said.
“I don’t know if he’s OK. I don’t know if he’s injured. I don’t know if he’s gone. I’m just scared right now.”
As of 10:30 a.m., coroner’s officials were “still a number of hours out” from being able to process the scene and begin formal identification of victims, said Marion County chief deputy coroner Alfarena McGinty.
Eight people were killed, five were injured and the gunman died after the shooter began firing outside the facility, said Indianapolis Deputy Police Chief Craig McCartt at a news conference Friday.
McCartt said the gunman “pretty quickly started some random shooting” while outside, then made his way into the building before shooting himself.
FedEx prohibits employees from having their phones with them while they are working, but McCartt said he did not believe that slowed police’s response to the scene. However, it may have added to confusion and frustration at the family reunification site, he said.
The company told Business Insider early Friday it’s reconsidering the policy in the aftermath of the mass shooting.
A FedEx spokesperson would not comment on the policy when asked by IndyStar, part of the USA TODAY Network. “Our immediate priorities are the safety and well-being of our team members and cooperation with law enforcement at this time,” the spokesperson said.
Olivia Thla Sui, a FedEx employee who worked Thursday night, said having to leave their phones in the locker room caused a lot of confusion.
“We don’t know when this stuff can happen,” she said. “… It was hard to get in touch with family members saying they’re OK.”
The scene early Friday inside the Holiday Inn’s ballroom was nothing short of “chaos,” other family members said.
“Nobody knew what was going on,” said Ashley Ladd, whose 22-year-old daughter, Shayla, works as a manager at the center. Ladd said she was lucky to know within five minutes that Shayla was all right.
An app on her phone alerted her to the reports of the shooting and she immediately FaceTimed her daughter. Red and blue police lights flashed across Shayla’s face, she said, and people were heard screaming.
“This is just crazy,” Ladd said at the Holiday Inn Express.
Jose Lopez sat in the hotel for hours waiting for news of his friend.
“It is hard because if my friend had a phone, he would be able to contact me right away,” said Lopez, who has worked at the facility for about six months. “Even if it’s a message with one letter, you know he is living.”
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