BEECH GROVE, Ind. — Last month in Beech Grove police shot a suspected car thief and investigated the shooting of two people outside of a downtown bar.
Over the course of 36 hours during the Labor Day holiday, BGPD found two women shot outside of a bowling alley and a man who was stabbed in the face and fired upon at another family entertainment venue.
Mayor Dennis Buckley wants his city’s officers to get tough on people coming to Beech Grove to commit violent crimes.
”I had a discussion with our police administration the other day and I told them, ‘You know, you’re going to have to change the way you police and routine. Pulling people over is not gonna cut it because they’re too busy making runs,’” said Buckley, whose term will conclude at the end of the year. ”We gotta get back to how police used to be and the police need to be more aggressive and every once in a while police need to hit people in the head to get order around here.”
Beech Grove Deputy Police Chief Bob Mercuri said this past weekend’s violent crime outbreak in his city has more to do with the breakdown of society in Marion County than it does with police response.
”In both instances, the owners of those businesses paid for off-duty law enforcement security. One a constable from Pike Township and the other a Marion County Sheriffs Deputy. They’re both there and it makes no difference,” said Mercuri. “There’s an utter disregard for authority. There’s an utter disregard for law enforcement.”
Outside of Beech Grove Bowl Sunday morning, two women said they exchanged words with a man whose vehicle was blocking the parking lot and he shot them.
Inside Great Times on Monday night, at a 14-year-old girl’s birthday party, the teen’s uncle disagreed with the mother of the child’s boyfriend and he was stabbed in the face before fleeing gunfire in the parking lot on his way to the hospital.
An off-duty sheriff’s deputy crashed his personal car in the lot attempting to track the fleeing gunman.
Mercuri said neither the suspect nor the victim were Beech Grove residents.
”You’re gonna find in most of these cases that this isn’t somebody who lives in Beech Grove and the victim isn’t somebody who lives in Beech Grove,” said Mercuri.
Mayor Buckley is aware that Beech Grove bars attracted customers from Indianapolis’ east side.
“The common denominator in most violent incidents in our city this year as a result of people who don’t even live here. They migrate into Beech Grove and whether they drink alcohol or whatever causes problems,” said Buckley. ”We have a couple of bars that serve people up until 3 a.m. and I think one of them has stopped doing that but that doesn’t help us. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to drink alcohol at three o’clock in the morning.”
Buckley said he is challenging the liquor license of the Silver Bullet Bar, which one customer said is akin to blaming the bar for the people who drink there.
”That’s knee-jerk. Total knee-jerk. Is it really gonna solve the problem?” asked Allen MacDonald. “It may solve the immediate problem here and impact the way a guy’s making a living but they’ll go elsewhere.”
Buckley and MacDonald agree that after 2020, when COVID cooped people up at home and riots wrecked downtown Indianapolis, Beech Grove visitors, many of them armed without gun permits, have been quicker to resort to violence.
Buckley said he will pursue declaring both Great Times and Beech Grove Bowl as public nuisances even as he instructs his police officers to become more aggressive.
”All you can do is make the arrests, make the stops, do what you do,” said Mercuri.