IMPD investigates 5 deadly shootings in 5 days as 2019 gets off to violent start

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - It’s been a violent start to the new year in Indianapolis.  After breaking the record for criminal homicides in 2018, the violence is continuing into 2019.

Police are now investigating after five people were shot and killed in as many days. Following the homicides in five days, police were able to make an arrest in two of those cases.

After being dropped off at Eskenazi hospital with a gunshot wound, a woman named Andre Bledsoe passed away Sunday. Police say the 30-year-old was shot while riding in a car near 10th and Tibbs.

That marked the fifth killing in five days starting last Wednesday at an apartment complex where someone shot and killed 19-year-old Svitlana Novotney inside a car.

The next day, police say a home intruder was shot to death while trying to break into a home on Winslow Drive.

On Friday afternoon, 19-year-old Onterio Pullins was killed in the backyard of a home on Oliver Ave.

On Saturday, 42-year-old Richard Pettry was killed in a shooting on the near southeast side.

Following the botched burglary Thursday, police arrested two men, Kevin Lemaster and Benjamin Gardner. Investigators say the pair planned to break into the home when their accomplice Rickey Cartmel was killed.

According to an affidavit, Gardner confessed the three men broke into the home the day before and returned to steal a hot water heater when they were confronted by the gunman who was protecting the vacant property.

Both Gardner and Lemaster now face possible charges of felony murder.

“Even though this person did not fire a shot, they are responsible for the death of a confederate,” said attorney Ralph Staples.

While it may not make a difference in this case, attorney Staples says the Indiana Court of Appeals recently added a stipulation in felony murder cases that a death has to be foreseeable.

“I can see in the future more complicated cases might cause prosecutors to hesitate to file felony murder charges because of the foreseeability thing,” said Staples.

As for the deadly shooting on Tibbs, court records in that case show police arrested a man who admitted to shooting the victim with a shotgun but he claims he did it in self-defense because Bledsoe pulled a weapon on him first.

Despite two women being killed in five days, homicides involving female victims remain unusual.  Last year, 26 homicide victims were women compared to 151 men.

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