Balloon release marks birthday of Indianapolis murder victim

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - After a short prayer more than two dozen balloons were released over the west side home Fairley Griffie shared with his mother.

Had he lived to see it, Griffie would have turned 20-years-old this weekend.

Instead, Latasha Brownlee said, her son died because an ex-girlfriend invited him to a party and then called her new boyfriend to engineer a confrontation.

“She wanted them I guess to fight over her but my son was like over it,” said Brownlee. “He didn’t deal with her no more. He was just her friend.”

Brownlee has cellphone video of her son minding his own business at the party, but she said after the new boyfriend and his associates arrived, Griffie decided to clear out.

“He was just trying to go to a party do what young men his age do. He wasn’t bothering anybody. They followed him down stairs. He left to come home,” said Brownlee. “They followed him downstairs to kill him.”

In the parking lot of the Carriage West Apartments, at 1:30 a.m. on June 4th of this year, Griffie got into a scuffle with one of the new boyfriend’s buddies.

Both men were armed, but IMPD charged only Jordan Taber with murder for the shooting.

“It's horrible for a young person to have to lose their life for that,” said Brownlee. “For what? For no reason.”

Witnesses said as Griffie was dying on the pavement, Taber stole his gun.

After investigating Taber’s self-defense claim, IMPD issued his arrest warrant in mid-August.

He hasn’t been seen since.

“My family went and talked to a bunch of people in the apartments. They would talk to my family but they wouldn’t they talk to the police,” said Brownlee. “They say it to my family but they won’t say it to the police.”

It's an investigative challenge IMPD faces everyday as more teenagers are armed and dying in Indianapolis.

Through Sunday morning, 23 teenagers had been murdered in the city.

Ten of them had never reached their 18th birthdays.

18 teenage murder suspects have been arrested this year, eight of them under the age of 18.

In 555 IMPD stolen gun reports through August 31st of this year, teenagers were named as suspects 28 times.

When 13-year-old Matthew McGee was murdered in the parking lot of a restaurant near Castleton Square Mall September 9th, IMPD detectives were stymied in their initial investigation by the refusal of parents to allow their children to talk with officers.

“If you see something, you tell because your family will want that if you were in that situation,” said Griffie’s cousin India Clark.

Brownlee said if her son were still alive and he had witnessed a murder, she would tell the kid they called Rambo to do the right thing.

“You have to talk to the police, you’ve gotta tell ‘em what happened. Why hold it in?” she asked. ”Why keep it a secret? If that person did that to that person, they’ll do it to somebody else, and I don’t want that to be on my son’s conscience knowing that something just happened and he didn’t report it. You gotta have a conscience.”

As Brownlee poured out her brokenhearted frustration, her son’s friends gathered round.

They admitted in an interview that it was imperative for their peer group to speak up in Indianapolis if they should witness a crime in order that the city get a handle on the murder tally that is taking the lives of too many people their age.

Later, Griffie’s friends called back asked that their comments not be used in the story.

After all, his gun was stolen, one man said, and they didn’t want Griffie’s killers to come after them.

If you know the whereabouts of Jordan Taber, call Crimestoppers at (317) 262-TIPS.

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