Brandon Scott Hole, 19, entered a FedEx depot in Indianapolis at 11 p.m. last Thursday and shot dead 8 people before taking his own life. Forty minutes earlier, he had posted final words: "I hope that I can be with Applejack in the afterlife, my life has no meaning without her."
Applejack is the main character in the children's cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic first broadcast in 2010. Mr Hole had two Facebook accounts dedicated to the show that were removed by the social media giant following the shooting after requests from law enforcement, according to an internal memo acquired by The Wall Street Journal. While law enforcement hoped that Mr Hole's online activity would help shed light on his motive for the attack, the Facebook memo said the gunman's accounts were mostly focused on the cartoon show.
Though a charming cartoon marketed at girls and young women, the rebooted My Little Pony series had a weird penumbral irony to its furry antics which led to much broader success. So-called "bronies" were young men who took an interest in the show, and they even had their own convention to celebrate it. But its appropriation by the farthest right was also a growing problem. Just a year ago, The Atlantic's Kaitlin Tiffany wrote that the show's fans were "ready to admit they had a Nazi problem."
That sounds just as strange no matter how many times you say it. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a cartoon television show about friendship, compassion, and a group of magical horses with names such as Twilight Sparkle and Fluttershy who live in a fantastical land called Equestria. It's marketed to children. Nevertheless, it has an extremely dedicated adult fandom, which is mostly made up of men, or "bronies," as they've been referred to for nearly a decade. Most of these men are white. Some of these men are vocal white supremacists.
Police say Hole "browsed white supremacist websites", but the quote specifies this was a year before the shooting. Nonethless, the facility was staffed by a mostly-Sikh workforce and half of those killed there were Sikh. Authorities are considering a racial motive in the attack, but none was reportedly disclosed in Hole's suicide note.
In an attack that lasted only a matter of minutes, Hole opened fired at the facility near Indianapolis' main airport before taking his own life Thursday night. Of the eight people killed in the violence, four were members of the area's Sikh community, Maninder Singh Walia, a member of the Sikh community in Indianapolis, told CNN on Friday.
Hole's mother knew something bad was about to happen and tried to warn the authorities, to no avail.
He was able to buy two assault rifles, one in July and another in September of last year, despite having had his shotgun confiscated after his mother called authorities and expressed concern about his mental health. Mr Hole was for a short period placed under psychiatric detention after his mother reported to law enforcement that he was considering "suicide by cop". FBI agents found no crime had been committed when they interviewed him in April 2020.