Family holds vigil for 13-year-old shot and killed, council to address gun violence

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Harry Taliefer was supposed to be getting ready to start 8th grade at Decatur Middle School this summer, instead his family is mourning his loss after the 13-year old was shot and killed.

“He’s not going to live to see 14,” his adoptive mother, Tiffany Conn, told a crowd at a vigil for Taliefer Friday night, “Y’all have got to think before you react. Put down those guns, it’s not worth it. It is not worth it. His life never should have been cut this short.”

A witness said the teen was trying to play the role of peacekeeper during a large fight and get others to walk away from it, but instead was shot Thursday night on the east side.

“My son was going somewhere and the streets claimed my son’s life unfairly,” Taliefer’s mother Shawnta Winston said.

Police said when they responded to the large disturbance involving 20-30 kids and adults they found Taliefer laying in the street. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Family members said he loved football, dancing, laughing and was a truly great kid.

“We just want to just say that we don’t want him to die in vain, we want this to be a lesson to everyone that when you see kids fighting, when things start escalating whether that’s on social media or in the streets, we as community members, we as adults, we need to step up and stop it before this happens, this tragic tragedy happens to another family,” his uncle, Southport Police Officer Jay Thomas said.

At the vigil, police, community members and family came together in song, prayer and messages to youth.

Taliefer’s cousin, James Wilson, the CEO of Circle Up Indy, which works to keep youth out of violence,  addressed youth violence to the crowd, as did IMPD Chief Bryan Roach.

“You as youth, you’ve got great potential and you’re here on this Earth because you’re special and we want you to know that we think that. But if you’re not comfortable with us please find somebody, a mentor, a pastor, a loved one within your circle, to engage and try to do the right thing” Chief Roach said specifically to kids.

Some city-county councilors are tired of the violence, too.

“Young babies are dying. You have Harry yesterday, you have Malaysia,” Councilor La Keisha Jackson said.

She herself sustained injuries when she witnessed a shooting in 2015. Monday, she and Councilor Zach Adamson plan to introduce a proposal for a resolution recognizing gun violence as a public health crisis for Indianapolis. Jackson said issues like education, mental health and conflict resolution need addressed.

“What it’s geared for is not to affect anyone’s second amendment, I’m not trying to take away anyone’s guns or their right to defend themselves, but this gives us an opportunity to go after federal funds, to link up with the CDC to get those resources in to address, like I said, these systemic issues, in our neighborhoods and communities who have a high effect on gun violence,” Jackson said.

According to the proposal, the city-county council would also state intent to give priority when setting budgets and appropriating funds to initiatives and programs, “that are designed and demonstrate genuine probabilities of success in decreasing gun violence in Marion County.”

It also means the council would direct the Office of Public Health and Safety to work with the county health department to establish and operate programs and seek funding to alleviate the public health crisis.

While councilors consider that proposal, though, there’s nothing that will bring back Harry Taliefer. In place of crime tape Friday night sits signs and candles, as loved ones pray, remember and ask others to help make sure this doesn’t happen again.

If you have information about the crime, call police or Crimestoppers where you can remain anonymous at 317-262-TIPS.

The family has also set up a GoFundme account to help with funeral expenses. It can be found here.

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