BEECH GROVE, Ind. — Dozens of gunshots fired in a crowded park Sunday night in Beech Grove led to a chaotic scene with three victims rushed to local hospitals and one man dead in the park.
The shooting happened at Don Challis Park on South 9th Avenue as people were gathered for a vigil for a person who had recently died. A juvenile is among the trio of people left wounded. Their conditions were described as stable.
Two to three men suspected of taking part in the shooting left in a “newer model” white Toyota Camry that may have a window shot out, police said. Detectives are still searching for that Camry.
Police released surveillance pictures of that car. They said the suspects inside the car did not attend the vigil before the shooting.
“There was an argument. It appears that it may have been between two females, and then it was separated, and then somehow that erupted into this massive barrage of weapons being fired down there,” explained Beech Grove Deputy Police Chief Tom Hurrle.
Deputy Chief Hurrle is leading the investigation and said police spoke to nearly 40 witnesses but didn’t know if the victims and suspects actually knew each other or not.
“The indications I have is they weren’t because we conducted dozens of interviews, and I don’t think a name surfaced,” said Hurrle.
The deputy chief stated that the shooting marks Beech Grove’s first homicide of the year and called the violence “atypical” for the community.
Beech Grove Mayor Dennis Buckley said there will be a peace walk Saturday, July 30, at city park.
“We’re tired of this. We’re tired of the violence. Stop,” said Mayor Buckley.
Buckley called the incident isolated, targeted and rare for the city.
“The whole message I wanted to get out to the residents of this city is that we are alright. We are a good city, but sometimes evil finds us,” said Buckley.
Mayor Buckley began a press conference Monday by assuring the city’s residents that they are safe.
“This is an isolated incident. It was a targeted incident, and you are safe. This is a safe city, and especially those who lived around Don Challis Park, I want you to know that we are vigilant, and we are patrolling, and you are safe.”
After a short prayer, the mayor thanked those involved in the response, including multiple police departments, EMS, dispatch and the citizens in the area who listened to requests to stay away from the scene.
After the police chief spoke, Mayor Buckley talked about how this starts in the home.
“It starts with a parent accountability. When I was growing up, I never acted like this ’cause I knew what the consequence would be. You don’t have that anymore with most kids. Some kids are really good, but where are the parents when it comes to things like this?”
Mayor Buckley also critiqued the criminal justice system and Indiana’s permitless carry law passed this year.
“Our criminal justice system is a revolving door. You commit crimes, you get placed under arrest by the police, within an hour you’re out committing the same crimes again. Local prosecution, local prosecutors have to step up and prosecute these people for gun crimes.
“And maybe the law needs to be changed to where the parents are the ones who are responsible. We can’t continue down this road.
“Our legislature, you’ve heard the superintendent of the state police, Doug Carter, scream at the top of his lungs that this open carry with no permit is a bad deal. In the last week alone, the Beech Grove Police Department had three major issues with guns. One was last night.
“Another one was last Wednesday when they chased two young teenage males in a car. They stopped the car, they bail, both of them were apprehended by Beech Grove police. Both males had handguns in their jeans.
“A day before that, a police officer from Beech Grove tried to initiate a traffic stop outside of Beech Grove. The male driving the car bailed, was caught. When they did a search on him, this individual had two handguns in his jeans. These are kids.”
The mayor also suggested that Indiana should use its state surplus to invest in its youth rather than give Hoosiers a check for a few hundred dollars, as has been proposed during a special session this month.
“The state of Indiana boasts about having a $6 billion surplus. We’re going to give $225 to $400 back to every taxpayer in Indiana. Maybe we shouldn’t do that. Maybe we should invest in our schools to fortify buildings. Maybe we should invest in school resource officers. Maybe we should invest in early childhood development centers to get ahold of these 3 and 4 year olds and talk to them about the dangers of drugs and the dangers of guns instead of giving everybody $225.”
Buckley ended his statement with a call to action.
“Folks, it’s on you and I to make it happen. If we have elected officials who don’t want to act, it’s time to go to the ballot box and remove them and put other people in there who will. So, we’re at that point.”
Joe Hopkins and Jesse Wells contributed to this story.