By Laura Kusisto 

The Marion County prosecutor said Monday he had lacked sufficient evidence to use Indiana's red flag law to pursue a court order that would have prevented Brandon Hole from obtaining the firearms he used to kill eight people.

Mr. Hole, a 19-year-old former employee of FedEx Corp., went on a shooting spree before taking his own life at the company's ground facility Thursday night. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives traced the two weapons used in the attack and found that Mr. Hole purchased the rifles legally in July and September 2020, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said.

Indiana has a red-flag law that allows police to seize a firearm from a suspect who is considered to be a danger to himself or others. Any seizure requires a court hearing within 14 days to determine the suspect's threat level. A finding of dangerousness might lead not only to the seizure of the firearm but to a ban on obtaining others.

While Mr. Hole was on the radar of law enforcement as someone with mental-health issues and potentially violent tendencies, he never had such a hearing, said Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears.

In March 2020, his mother contacted law enforcement to report he might try to commit "suicide by cop." Mr. Hole was temporarily committed at a local hospital for evaluation of his mental-health needs that month by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, and police seized a shotgun at his residence.

Mr. Hole's family voluntarily agreed to surrender the weapon permanently. Prosecutors didn't pursue a court hearing because they were concerned that they would lose and potentially have to give back the gun, Mr. Mears said.

"We had achieved our objective, which was to prevent that item from going back to the person," he said.

Mr. Mears said there were limitations under Indiana's red flag law to what his office could do to prevent Mr. Hole from obtaining weapons in the future.

The 14-day timeline limited the prosecutor's ability to get access to Mr. Hole's medical record to see whether he had a documented history of mental illness, which would have helped build a case against his being able to purchase weapons, Mr. Mears said.

"There are a number of loopholes in the practical application" of the state's red-flag law, he said.

Write to Laura Kusisto at laura.kusisto@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 19, 2021 18:08 ET (22:08 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.