East side residents find little comfort in navigating neighborhood violence


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Reese Miller spotted me walking up Priscilla Avenue outside of his apartment at Beechwood Garden after a handful of IMPD patrol cars drove away.

“I see the police officers coming through here two or three times a day,” said Miller. “That does give you a little comfort but at the same time, me even talking right now could put me in the same jeopardy.”

Miller was talking about the gunfire he hears and trouble he sees outside the door of his east side public housing unit.

“I saw a kid get killed, it was right over here,” recalled Miller, pointing to Priscilla Avenue across East 30th Street. “I started going to church the other day because it’s too crazy. The kid got killed over there and we got five kids in here so I don’t want nobody to be no statistic or be out here laid out on the street for nothing, something that could have been avoided.”

Peter Lambermont was just 15 years old when he was shot to death on January 4th and became Indianapolis’ first homicide victim of 2020.

“You see people running around doing crazy stuff, crazy stuff, gunshots,” warned Miller. “Its not really a safe place even to let the kids come out here for the kids out here are off the chain, too.”

Priscilla Avenue and Priscilla Court are inside IMPD North District Beats 30 & 31 where eleven of last year’s homicides were recorded.

Robert Banks III was one of those victims, shot to death in the living room of his father’s home in the 3500 block of Priscilla Court last November.

“Two dudes tried to rob my son, killed my son and my son killed the one robber that tried to rob him,” recalled Robert Banks, Jr., as he pointed to the bullet hole in the screen door where his son shot at the robber who got away.  “My son was 31 years old. He wasn’t no bad person and I don’t think he should be gone right now. He should still be here.”

If his son was still here, he might have been home early Saturday morning when Banks’ daughter heard three gunshots in front of a neighbor’s house and looked outside to find a wounded man on her porch.

“I got in the house and my daughter said somebody got shot and they tried to crawl up to here to I guess get some help from my daughter or one of us,” said Banks. “The whole day after I kept getting calls and people kept coming over here because they thought it was me. Something happened to my son like two months ago so everybody was calling and everybody came over because they thought it was me that got shot.”

For 56 years, Banks has lived in the same house on Priscilla Court.

Now, whenever friends or family hear about violence on that block, they worry its him.

“This neighborhood ain’t been like this. We never had nothing like this happen around here. A lot of people around here just leery about this round here,” said Banks. “The east side is kind of treacherous right now and I know the police department, they know that its kind of treacherous out on the east side. Usually be out on Post Road. Now it came up here a little bit like towards Arlington and Emerson.”

Back at Beechwood Garden, four IMPD FLEX team officers cleared the scene after taking a habitual traffic offender without a license into custody.

The officers admit that when they look at police reports and intelligence analysis, they notice an upswing in crime and so target the area for extra patrols.

“I left Columbus, Ohio, to come out here and start a new life and it’s the same, its really worse,” said Miller as he shook his head. “No matter where you go, you’re gonna have this, but in this area right here, I might as well stayed in Columbus.”

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