Brandon Scott Hole, the 19-year-old who shot up an Indianapolis FedEx facility and killed eight people, was reportedly part of a bizarre Internet subculture obsessed with 'My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.' Hole's now-deleted Facebook page appeared to show he was a member of the "Bronies" community, with some adult men in the group claiming to be sexually attracted to the cartoon characters.
The Bronies community is a group of mostly adult men who are extreme fans of the kiddie toys and animated television show. Hole reportedly made a final post in the group less than an hour before his shooting spree began, according to the Wall Street Journal. Interestingly, an internal Facebook memo they reviewed that detailed the post said: "Brony online culture has displayed elements of far-right and white nationalist extremism."
According to reports and review of the community, some members are sexually attracted to the kiddie characters, while the group also has allegedly displayed far-right tendencies. "I hope that I can be with Applejack in the afterlife, my life has no meaning without her," Hole wrote on his Facebook page at 10:19 pm on Thursday, less than an hour before his rampage began, the WSJ reported.
The post also included a photo of Applejack, a blond pony that is a main character on the show. The name Brony is a mashup between "bro" and "pony" and the group has a history of extremist tendencies, the outlet reported.
"Brony online culture has displayed elements of far-right and white nationalist extremism," the memo stated. However, Facebook added that there was no clear evidence that the Brony culture the motivated the shooting.
Hole had two Facebook accounts, which the company deleted soon after the shootings at the request of law enforcement, Facebook said in an internal memo obtained by the WSJ. Investigators had expected that Hole's online history would shed light on his motives. Hwoever, Facebook said in the memo that his accounts focused mostly on My Little Pony.
Brony subculture first emerged following the show's successful 2010 debut. In the early days the subculture also had links to the military, with many active-duty service members professing their love for the sweet children's cartoon. The first 'BronyCon' gathering in 2011 attracted over a 100 adult fans and it continued to gain popularity over the years. By 2019, when the event was held, the attendees had swelled in size to more than 10,000.
That said, there have been quite a few controversies surrounding the Brony subculture. The subculture is also known to have attracted pedophiles and white supremacists, who spread hateful messages through fan art of the cartoon ponies with racist themes.
"This is a fan community that has prided itself on a permissiveness and pushing boundaries and cloaking themselves in irony and the idea that they can make the mainstream uncomfortable," Anne Gilbert, an instructor of media studies at University of Georgia and expert on the My Little Pony fandom, told the Atlantic last year. "That has been a source of pride."
Hole, a former employee of FedEx, opened fire in the facility before turning the gun on himself last Thursday.
Last year, Hole was briefly placed under psychiatric detention by police after his mother reported her concerns that he was contemplating "suicide by cop," according to the FBI. A shotgun was seized from his home, and was not returned to him.
This time, Hole legally bought the weapons he used in the attack despite fears about his mental health. However, the motive behind the shooting remains unclear.