Matthew R. Alexander was one of the eight people who were killed in a mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis. This story focuses on how Alexander is being remembered.
AVON — Calm, cool and collected. Matthew “Matt” Alexander was the type of guy who wore shorts in the winter, ate pizza for every meal and loved Christmas arguably more than anyone in Avon, Indiana.
His mom, Debbie, said only recently, he bought a pair of blue jeans for a trip with the guys. That same pair, she said, he hung right back up the second he got home from that trip and only busted it out for vacations. His mom and sister, Michelle both agreed, Matt also had more tennis shoes than they did combined.
“He would wear shorts, breakaway pants when it was 20 below. I said, ‘Matt would you wear a pair of jeans? Buy a pair of jeans?’ He said, ‘No.’ “ Matt’s Dad, Bradley said.
Matt Alexander was a man of few words, but his smile and actions told you he cared.
“He didn't say much, but Matt would smile. If I tell him that I loved him. And he'd say, okay. He never said I love you back, but you knew, you knew,” Debbie said.
He cared about his family, friends and FedEx coworkers. He cared about baseball, especially the St. Louis Cardinals. And he cared about travel, pizza and craft beer. His tight-knit family feels the loss.
“You'll never find another Matt Alexander on this planet”
Matt and Michelle grew up in Avon. About two years ago, Matt bought his own house in Avon – not too far from the house he grew up in. His family said it he was very proud of himself for doing so.
“Matt loved watching ‘Finding Bigfoot’ and so when he moved into his house and was trying to buy things to decorate with, we went over one day, and we walked in his living room and there is this probably four-foot-tall Sasquatch, sitting in the corner,” Debbie said with a laugh. She continued, “At Christmas time, he had a purple FedEx Santa hat that he would put on Sasquatch.”
Michelle said she was extremely close with her brother. She said they were each others “number one cheerleaders.” The family often took trips to Disney World. Matt was the planner of the family—always had the daily itinerary ready to go.
At Avon High School, he was in National Honor Society and played varsity baseball. He graduated in 2007 and went on to Butler University.
His favorite holiday, hands down, was Christmas. ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation' played on repeat.
Matt, his sister and dad around Christmas.
CREDIT: Alexander Family
“When Matt moved out of the house, I asked him, I said, Matt, you know, what do you want to take with you so that you can decorate? He took all these things that no 32-year-old kid would ever take out of the house and he decorated with everything his friends would come over and say, did you do that?” Debbie laughed.
He was also said to be “the best gift giver.”
“He thought about what he wanted to give to people and he gave you unique gifts, things that you wouldn't even think of,” Debbie said. She remembers two of the last gifts Matt gave her to be some of her favorites. Michelle said her brother’s dry sense of humor shined through every single birthday card he gave.
Debbie’s favorite gift from Matt was for her birthday last summer.
“Matt told me, he said, Mom, I don't have your gift yet, but I'm going to get it to get it to you tomorrow. And I said, that's fine. So, he came over. And he handed me a card. And I opened it up,” Debbie said. She continued, “It [the card] said that I had an experience at the zoo. So, I got my phone out and I went on in Google. What he gave me was I went, and the orangutans painted a picture for me. We all got to go, and we were five feet away from them. And it was the coolest experience. And it was the best birthday gift I have ever gotten in my life.”
Debbie said this experience at the Indy Zoo that Matt gifted her, was the best gift she has ever received.
CREDIT: Alexander Family
The last gift she got from him was this past Christmas. It came after they all were helping at his grandmother’s house months earlier, cleaning up the yard and he saw his mom love using the leaf blower.
“I had a heyday with that leaf blower. So for Christmas, I got a leaf blower from that,” Debbie said. She has not had the chance to use it just yet, but said she was planning on using it at Matt’s house.
Not only did Matt have a tight-knit family, he had a tight-knit group of friends. His buddies lived in Baltimore and Tampa and they traveled quite often.
“He just loved exploring new places around, especially breweries. He was like obsessed with craft beer,” Michelle said.
Growing up, every New Years Day, no matter the temperature outside, the Alexanders said Matt and his friends played street hockey outside.
The trophy? A gold painted flowerpot. It sits in Matt’s house right now.
Friends and coworkers of the 32-year-old knew Matt better, as “Zander,” the Alexander family said.
“He would talk your arm and leg off about sports”
The St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Blues, Indiana Pacers and Buffalo Bills were a few of his teams. He also loved IndyCar Racing.
Matt loved to travel.
CREDIT: Alexander Family
Matt shared the love of baseball with his dad, especially for the St. Louis Cardinals.
“So, when Matt was two, we one Saturday were watching the Cardinals on TV, and Matt just sat on the floor. And Ozzie Smith came out and started doing his flips as he was known for. Matt would just jump up and clap,” Bradley said. Debbie added, “He would just get right in front of the TV and just get so excited.”
“From that day forward, at age two, he was a St. Louis Cardinals diehard fan,” Bradley said. Ozzie Smith, Bradley added, was his son’s all-time favorite player.
Matt, his parents and his sister, Michelle, took regular trips each summer to see the Cardinals play in St. Louis and Cincinnati.
Bradley coached his son up until high school. At the time, he said Matt had to choose between playing golf or baseball – he picked baseball, but still loved the game of golf.
On Sunday, the Alexander family went to Matt's house and found this on his front lawn. Someone earlier came out and spelled the word 'love' with a heart and put a bouquet of red carnations in the center of the heart.
CREDIT: Alexander Family
Matt was a short-stop. He wore number 16 in his high school years, but started out wearing the number 8.
“All of his all the guys that played baseball with him were my adopted brothers,” Michelle said. She said she grew up on the baseball diamond.
Debbie always had a cowbell on hand for Matt’s games. She said only once she got in trouble during the All-Star Tournament for being too loud.
“His his teammates and a lot of the coaches and parents would call him ‘Mr. Automatic’ or they call him ‘Auto because Matt could throw strikes every time and he had a curveball that was nasty,” Debbie said.
Matt's legacy will live on in the Avon baseball program through the Matt Alexander Memorial Scholarship Fund, his father said.
“This way Matt can coach from heaven and he can assist in kids having the love, the passion, the kindness, the ability and the knowledge to play the game and respect the game," Bradley said. "If you go back and you talk to Matt’s coaches over the years, they will tell you that Matt respected the game of baseball.”
Matthew Alexander's dad threw out the first pitch over the weekend.
Video provided by Laura McPike.
The Avon Orioles held a moment of silence before Saturday's game, and his father threw out the first pitch on the mound where Matt used to play.
“He was a sports encyclopedia. It just wasn't baseball. It could be baseball, basketball, golf, hockey, hockey -- high school, college, professional -- anything. You name it. You asked him a question. He always had an answer. He didn't have to go look it up,” Bradley said.
“It's gonna be one giant hole in our family”
Earlier this year, Matt celebrated 10 years with FedEx about a month ago. His family tells WRTV he held several different jobs at the Ground facility on Mirabel Road. Most recently, he was a line haul coordinator.
"His work ethic was wonderful," Debbie said. Anybody would want him for an employee. Upper management said they didn't have to worry about who would run the building when others were on vacation."
Thursday night he was killed while walking into work.
“We are family, tight-knit,” Michelle said. Her dad continued, “Missing one. God has received him a little too early, but we know where he’s at.”
A fellow FedEx coworker WRTV Matt simply “was one of the best.” The former driver described the 32-year-old as “happy go lucky” and always made sure his drivers were taken care of. He said when someone brought in treats or donuts, Matt would make sure to stash a few away for the drivers out on the road.
Matt’s Sasquatch from his living room will be at the funeral service this week.
Debbie said, “That's one of the quirky things that he did, that everybody's just loved about him.”
She added the love and support from his friends and members of the community are getting them through this tragedy.
"Matt was not a hug person or an 'I love you' person, but you knew that Matt loved you and cared for you because of his actions more than words," Debbie said. "We have a big void in our life right now. Our hearts are shattered. Matt held a special place in our heart because he was such a special guy."
Matt Alexander celebrating with family.
CREDIT: Alexander Family
In his 32 years, Matt Alexander touched many lives and his loss is immeasurable. However, his family takes pride in the man he became and the difference he made.
"We all know what kind of son we had, and Michelle had in a brother, and a family could never, ever ask for any more," his father said.
On Sunday morning, Bradley said his wife opened the curtains and saw a red cardinal out front. Growing up, Michelle said whenever her or her brother saw a red cardinal at a game, their team always won. Without exchanging words on Sunday, they knew that red cardinal was Matt.
“[He had] a heart of gold. You'll never find another heart of gold in the world, I'm sorry,” Bradley said of his son, Matt.
On the day of Matthew’s visitation, one of his best friends, Josh Betustak, wanted to share the memory of Matt.
Betustak said Matthew and him met when they were just nine years old, while playing on the same baseball team.
It’s a bond over sports that lasted decades and distances. Josh teaches in Baltimore now, but they saw each other just a few weeks ago.
“He visited me about three weeks ago for St. Patrick's Day,” said Betustak.
They took a selfie, like best friends do every now and then, said Betustak. "And I just took it. And I had no idea that that would, that would be the last picture put us together.”
He describes Matthew as a kind soul, "in our, in our friend group. We called him our glue guy, because he was the ... He was the reliable guy that you know what you were gonna get. When it came to figuring out plans, we trusted him the most, to, hang on to sports tickets or concert tickets or whatever,” Betustak said. “Matt did not have a jealous bone in his body.”
He said they talked often. “If I was not going to bed a little earlier, I'd be like, 'Hey, give me a call on your way to work,' and you would call me 10:35, or 10:40-ish. And this might be where it gets tough ... Yeah. Yeah, Friday was the worst day of my life.”
On Friday, Betustak said he found out what happened, during a group phone call with Matt’s sister. The number of callers reached the maximum capacity.
“Michelle just went right to it said, uh, that Matt got his wings. And that was really hard,” said Betustak. “What like really hurts, is that dude, like he just wanted to, he just wanted to go to work, do his job well. And then, and then just come home.”
Matt with his sister and mom during the holidays.
CREDIT: Alexander Family
WRTV digital executive producer Katie Cox contributed to this report.More Stories on the FedEx Mass Shooting: 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