INDIANAPOLIS — It's been 15 days since our community faced unbelievable heartbreak and in a matter of minutes, the shooter killed eight people.
However, those first responders, including IMPD, ran toward danger not knowing just how bad it would be.
When tragedy strikes, it almost feels like time is suspended. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Sergeant Kevin Duley said he experienced that feeling during the FedEx mass shooting.
“This was almost a perfect storm this place was so far out there, that going as fast as you mechanically could go safely, you still could not get there fast enough,” said Duley.
After more than 21 years with the department, it’s his first time responding to a tragedy of this magnitude.
He said, “it just was the most helpless I've ever felt on this department.”
As a Sergeant, he oversees a team of about seven-teen officers, and all of them were some of the first people to respond to the scene.
WRTV Anchor, Megan Shinn asked, “How did you push past them and just jump into action?”
“You train for it. You try to be prepared. But I don't think there's ever anything you can do to truly understand how you're going to act or react in that situation,” said Duley.
He said they immediately ensured safety and resources arrived. Then, even he, himself, triaged the victims. During it, he told them, “You're going to be okay. And we have people coming to help you,” said Duley.
The help was badly needed, with damage that took over the parking lot and closed the facility.
Duley said, “That's a — that's a huge task. Typically, we're working within a residence or we're working within a block, and then on top of that, you have one hundred plus employees that are now brought out. And they're scared and they have no resources because, you know, their phone, their keys, everything are either inside or they're locked in their cars and they can't get to them. They can't call loved ones.”
More than one hundred IMPD Officers and first responders from other departments assisted.
Public Information Officer Genae Cook’s role was and is to step in front of the camera. Cook said, “The important part was communicating with the community.”
She’s someone we, WRTV, speak with regularly. However, the newsroom rarely sees her with tears in her eyes, like we saw the moment she gave a press conference about the mass shooting, and said, “this is a sight no one should have to see.”
Shinn asked, “How did you feel at that moment?”
Cook said, “I still think about everybody else's reactions and the sadness that was coming over everybody. And the fact of going in front of all these families and letting them know that we were going to have to tell at least eight families that their, their lives will never be the same.”
It’s that respect for the community that guided her decision to communicate with families first.
“They heard it straight from us and that was ... what was important to us because these are not just victims. These are our community members,” said Cook.
For the community and these men and women in blue … it feels personal.
Duley said, “As a parent, I'm like, my kids shouldn't have to worry about that. My kids shouldn't have to worry about going to work. And, and whether or not they're going to come home.”
Cook said, “I am a mom. I'm a mom of three,” and she said, “When I came home. They were very happy to see me.”
All officers and sergeants bypassed fear when showing up to FedEx. Duley said, “They did it by the book. And they did it without hesitation, whatsoever.”
Yet, it takes even more time to process the heartbreak.
Shinn asked, “How are they coping, how are you coping?”
Duley said, “Yeah, I wish I could tell you there wasn't a day that I didn't want to cry since then, but it's, it's just one of those things again that you, you look back on it, and you wish there was more you could do.”
The department continues to provide mental health resources. However, it’s Hoosier support, that will help everyone heal.
Cook said, “Say hi to them (officers). Ask them how they're doing,” She explained. “You're still human, we are all human.”
There’s no way to put a timeline on that process, but the police department, just like the community, must move forward.
“We need our city to heal from this, this is a long-term process,” said Cook.
Duley said, “At the end of the day, it doesn't matter who's on the other end of that call, we're going and we're helping as best we can.” He said he credits the response of his team and the entire department for their work on April 15.
To help the community heal, there is a public memorial on Saturday, May 1, at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Sikh community’s hosting it but they want everyone attending to find strength among each other. More than 2,000 people are expected to attend the service. Relatives of the eight people killed in the attack will also have the opportunity to address the crowd.
The tribute will happen on the general field of the stadium, from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Doors open at noon, attendance and park there are both free. Guests will enter through the South Gate. People are expected to wear masks and socially-distance.
Gov. Eric Holcomb and Mayor Joe Hogsett are scheduled to speak, as well.The Facts: What we know about the deadly mass shooting at an Indy FedEx facility | Timeline: Deadly mass shooting at FedEx facility in Indy | These are their faces: The victims of the FedEx mass shooting | Brandon Hole: What we know about the Indy FedEx mass shooter | Funeral plans for Indianapolis FedEx shooting victims | Marion Co. Prosecutor describes Red Flag status of FedEx mass shooter | Police union president blasts Marion County prosecutor for not using red flag law against FedEx assailant | IMPD observed white supremacist websites on FedEx shooting suspect's computer in 2020 | Calls for stricter gun legislation in Indiana following FedEx mass shooting | How Indiana's Jake Laird Law works | Mental health experts urge Hoosiers who are hurting after the FedEx shooting to seek help | Reminder: What you should do in an active shooter situation