INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- “I knew something like this was going to come because you can’t continue to wreak havoc in an area, especially killing people and shooting people.”
Anthoney Hampton stood outside the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center where he spends his weekends counseling young offenders as he discussed a wave of violence around Indianapolis.
Just the day before, IMPD Chief Bryan Roach told Mayor Joe Hogsett and a group of reporters that his detectives have the names of 45 young people between the ages of 13 and 15 years old who have been caught up in 22 shooting incidents, including at least two murders.
“Their whole life is surrounded by guns and gang activity,” said Hampton. “It’s a tit-for-tat, back-and-forth.”
IMPD investigators have been making the links between gun crimes since last fall with the activity stepping up this spring.
“We’ve got the possibility of them being involved in murder, shots fired, aggravated assaults and robberies,” said Deputy Chief Chris Bailey. “The worst violent crimes in our community have links to all of them.”
IMPD detectives have utilized tips from the community, intelligence analysis, gun evidence and social media photographs to identify the teens and their connections.
“The top tier are the top ten percent of these juveniles that we think are trigger pullers who have already committed violent acts,” said Bailey. “We got the middle group that are kind of outliers, these guys that are with trigger pullers a lot of the time but maybe haven’t reached that violent tendency yet, and then we have this lower level group that are maybe brothers, sisters, cousins, siblings, some of these kids that we believe can benefit from social service intervention.”
Bailey said investigators are stymied by parents who won’t cooperate with detectives or actually enable their children in their gun crime lifestyles.
“When your kids are all over social media and they’re posting guns in their waistbands and rifles slung over their shoulders and then as a part you are taking that picture, retweeting it but cropping that gun out, like someone sent me recently, I think there’s a good chance that there’s a parent or some adult in these kids’ lives that knows they’re carrying around guns and they’re not intervening, and that’s just terrible.”
Hampton said he knows why kids not yet old enough to drive are armed.
“They have to have a gun. Everyone else has a gun. It’s a no-brainer. You can’t walk around without a gun. It's sad to say that they live like that. Their parents don’t plan on relocating them and that’s how they live," Hampton said.
“These kids look up to local rap artists and they believe that everything that they hear and they have to do and then when they do they can go make a rap video and they livin’ for likes. That’s what they livin’ for, likes.
“A lot of these parents will go to work and then their son is left to these wolves in their area, or my area, or in whatever area, and these young wolves are being trained by older wolves who are dumb and all of them have no education, they just older so their whole life is just guns. They don’t know what’s outside their neighborhood, they never been out of the state and that’s the problem, their minds are so small and it's all about survival for them.”
Both Hampton and Bailey fear the violence will escalate once youngsters begin returning to school within the month and face off against their rivals in person on a daily basis.
Already this year eleven people under the age of 20 have died by gunshot wounds in Marion County.