INDIANAPOLIS — Court 34 in the City-County building ebbs and flows with gun detention hearings.
The mass shooting at the FedEx facility on April 15, 2021, has led to changes in how the Red Flag law is processed in Marion County. Metro Police officers now directly file every case with the court which usually sets a hearing within two weeks.
The Marion County Prosecutor's office has assigned Rob Beatson to handle every one of those cases.
"Allowing police to take guns from people undergoing mental health crisis has saved lives," said Beatson.
Beatson is the supervisor of the Strategic Prosecution Unit.
The Red Flag allows law enforcement to seize firearms from people who come to their attention during a mental health crisis.
As of January 1, 2022, Indianapolis had 34 active red flag cases involving about 52 weapons.
"They show up in court and they say, 'I'm seeing a doctor, I'm on medication, I'm getting help,' that's what we want. But nothing in the law requires respondents to do it. Nothing in the law that provides access to healthcare," said Beatson.
We spoke with one lady while at the court who asked not to be identified. On March 25, she reached out to a stress center which couldn't help. Police got involved after someone called 911 to report she was experiencing mental health issues. She was found in her vehicle with a gun and police seized her weapon that day.
"I'm not angry. I'm not upset. If you watch the news and you find yourself in this position you have the rationale enough to say 'you know what? He's trying to keep the public safe.' This is not another incident where the judge releases the gun and then the party uses it on themselves, or family members, neighbors, or somebody else," the woman told WRTV Investigates' Rafael Sanchez.
During her gun retention hearing that day, the judge ruled the woman was "dangerous".
That "dangerous" ruling does two things: It allows police to keep the weapon and places the person's name on a list that bans a federally-licensed gun shop from selling the individual a gun.
"It was a difficult conversation to have," she told Rafael. "Just having he word dangerous mentioned to me was very difficult."
Court 34 is where judgment is passed as people defend their right to bear arms.
In the case of the FedEx shooting, the gunman, Brandon Hole was no stranger to police, or the Red Flag Law.
March 3, 2020, Hole’s mother called police saying her son wanted to die by suicide by cop. Officers seized a shotgun and took Hole to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.
Under the Red Flag Law, his shotgun was seized.
On March 10, Brandon voluntarily gave up his rights to his weapon.
That's one of the many reasons the Marion County Prosecutor’s office said they did not file a gun detention hearing and that Brandon, at the time, did not have a history of violence.
With no hearing, there was no way for a judge to decide if Hole remained a danger and no opportunity to stop Hole from legally buying the assault-style rifles he used in the FedEx attack.
According to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Hole went on to purchase an assault rifle in July 2020 and another in September 2020. He would later use those weapons to kill eight people and injure five others at an Indianapolis FedEx facility.
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