Tourists feel safe despite another weekend of downtown gunfire

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Ray Johnson was walking through downtown Indianapolis, on his way back from the Indiana Repertory Theatre, after another night of gunfire left a teenager wounded in the heart of the city.

“Yes I feel safe. I’m from Michigan, from Detroit so this happens all the time,” he said. “Nothing compared to what we got going on there.”​

That may be true when compared to the shuttered, bankrupt and bouncing back Motor City, but still unnerving in the center of Indiana’s capitol city.

Saturday night, just after ten o’clock, at Capitol Avenue and Maryland Street, near the Indiana Convention Center that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors and tens of millions of their dollars every year, a teenager was shot in the foot.

As is typical of downtown teenage shootings, the victim couldn’t help police with a suspect or a motive, and had a violent criminal record of his own to reflect on, most recently, as the perpetrator of a carjacking in his north side neighborhood.

In the hours after the 19-year-old was being treated for his non-life threatening injuries, IMPD was called out in the final hours of darkness before the Sunday dawn as one woman reported being pulled from her car and beaten by a group of females, two people on Monument Circle said 15 youths did $15,000 damage to their car and another man was robbed at gunpoint by two suspects.

“We have a great downtown. The best in the nation. It’s safe,” said Captain John Mann who scrambled Saturday night to flood the district with officers outnumbered by visitors and unable to be everywhere to keep enemies apart. “We will work to get that 1 or 2 percent that are causing problems out of here, so the rest of us can come and have a good time, whether it’s dinner, or seeing the bars or the nightlife that we have downtown.”

On April 8, three teens were wounded near the Indiana Statehouse.

They also had criminal histories.

“I moved here from New Orleans, so it’s pretty chill here in Indianapolis,” said Cam Holzer, visiting downtown from Lexington, Kentucky. “I can speak for this particular day and it’s been a great vibe all day long.”

In recent weeks, IMPD has promised to meet on a regular basis with bar owners downtown to share security tips while officials are negotiating with community leaders to host alternative events for youth on Saturday nights.

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