Four wounded in shootings and parking garage attacks leave downtown safety in doubt

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INDIANAPOLIS–IMPD maintains that downtown Indianapolis remains safe and open for visitors, workers and residents.

There’s a Greenfield woman who begs to differ.

“I was getting out of my car and was approached by a man from the back and he grabbed me and dragged me in front of my car and physically assaulted me…ripped my clothes…opened…punched me in the face several times.

“I never saw him coming.”

“He got a few good punches in.”

Nearly a week after the assault, the woman’s left eye and cheekbone have turned a sickly shade of green, evidence of the bruises she sustained during the beating inside a parking garage at 327 North Illinois Street as she parked her car to come to work last Monday morning.

“We had one witness to the assault, came around the corner and heard me screaming and stopped and yelled that he was gonna call the police,” said the woman. “The guy got off of me, said something about just wanting a cigarette and backed away from me and took off running toward the stairs.”

The woman said she picked her attacker out of a photographic lineup and his description matches that of a man she has seen on a surveillance video who was in the garage just before she was beaten.

“I definitely think that if I saw him again I would know who he was,” she said, “what he looks like, what he’s dressed like, his height, his build, I remember it exactly.”

Unfortunately, she says, the eyewitness who came to her rescue did not get as good a look at the man as she did and, as a result, was not as certain as she was in identifying the attacker.

“I’ve spoken with IMPD a couple times, went in and looked at a lineup and I don’t think anything is going to come of it because the witness…he wasn’t positively ID’d,” the woman said a detective told her. “He wasn’t positively identified and the prosecutor would not touch it without there being a direct witness to the crime because we did not have a video of the assault.”

IMPD’s year-to-date statistics comparing the first seven weeks of 2020 with the first seven weeks of 2021 show downtown robbery reports down 33%, aggravated assaults down 70% and simple assaults down six percent.

Of course, this was before Sunday morning when four people were shot in two separate incidents on Market and on Meridian Streets and may not be a true apples-to-apples comparison since a year ago, downtown Indianapolis was still humming with a full workforce and visitors who have since been sidelined due to COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns.

“Everyone knows that parking garages all over the world are a problem, so, on a daily basis our district cars are out there and they’re patrolling all of these garages,” said IMPD Lt. Tabitha McLemore.

“I’ve never seen a police officer inside our garage,” said Monday’s beating victim. “I’ve never seen our personal garage patrolled. I don’t feel safe going back and forth to work.”

McLemore said Indianapolis’ homeless population and late night bar scene are constant sources of attention for IMPD’s downtown district.

“We had a weekly talk about how our community was downtown and how our patrons were down here and if we needed to step up extra patrols in certain areas or if we needed to bring in extra officers for the bar area, that’s a weekly discussion down here.”

Sunday morning’s shooting of three people on Market Street occurred midway between IMPD headquarters and a hotel near Monument Circle that can be expected to host basketball fans for college tournament play next month.

The shooting of the man in the 300 block of South Meridian Street two hours later happened a stone’s throw from IMPD’s Downtown District Headquarters.

On February 12th, a family from Mooresville was visiting downtown when they were accosted by a homeless man in a parking garage connected to Circle Centre.

An IMPD report indicates that when officers arrived, a man was holding the homeless person at gunpoint, there was a knife in his right hand and the armed man had pinned the other man’s right wrist to the ground to immobilize him. Witnesses told police that moments earlier the homeless was holding the knife to the throat of a four-year-old child. The boy’s grandmother told Fox 59 News that, along with her daughter, she had subdued the man and wrestled the child away when the armed citizen came to their assistance.

She told Fox 59 News that IMPD detectives advised her to not give an on-camera interview for fear it would jeopardize the prosecutor’s criminal case against the man who she saw hold a knife to her grandson’s neck.

The woman assaulted in the North Illinois Street parking garage said that when she asked IMPD about her assailant, she was told, “that he was a vagrant homeless person that wanders the streets of downtown Indianapolis.”

She said she fears returning to her job downtown knowing her attacker is still on the loose.

“There really isn’t much of a system is the way I’m looking at it,” she said. “I feel kind of cheated honestly.”

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