INDIANAPOLIS — With a handful of shootings this weekend, IMPD pegs this year’s running total of juveniles who have survived non-fatal gunshot wounds at 55 — three more than all of 2022.
Twice this weekend, teenagers, ages 16 and 13, walked into Indianapolis hospitals seeking treatment for gunshot injuries.
One victim last week was nine years old.
There have been 14 juveniles who have died thus far this year from gunshot wounds.
Last weekend, IMPD officers came upon a crashed car on the southwest side with several children spread across the side of the road, one teen suffering from a gunshot wound and another in possession of a stolen handgun.
”We do believe the individuals were targeted, and it does appear that there were possibly multiple shooters,” said IMPD Lt. Shane Foley. ”What is a 14-year-old, what is a 15-year-old doing at one o’clock in the morning rolling around the streets of Indianapolis, one of whom had a stolen firearm?”
Anthony Beverly, founder of Stop the Violence Indianapolis, has a possible answer.
”It’s a call for help,” he said. “It’s the wrong call for help, but it’s a call for help, and we need to open our ears and eyes and pay more attention to it.”
Beverly’s group and Hoosiers for Good are answering that call for the second year in a row with a campaign featuring IU athletes urging young people to turn away from gun violence.
”We had the football team that used social media as a platform to go out and encourage youth to make better choices,” said Beverly. ”We’re starting the campaign up again, and so four or five of the athletes that are primary athletes are gonna be sending out messages along with several others.”
Last year, the “Team Up for Peace” campaign featured videos of IU’s Race Thompson and Trayce Jackson-Davis speaking to young people.
This year, IU football players appear tossing the ball around and counseling young people to let cooler heads prevail.
”Peer pressure is at an all-time high,” said Beverly. “You have youth that want to make better choices, you have youth that really want to do the right thing, but peer pressure is really, really tough.
”There are a lot of youth that are doing very well. A lot of youth that are going off to college, that are getting great jobs and making a lot of right decisions.”
Beverly said he has consulted with a Louisville campaign titled “Cities United,” which has a similar program against youth gun violence.
Stop the Violence Indianapolis is also working with an IU researcher to explore the reasons why Indiana youths turn to guns.
Beverly said, with the support of IU athletes, the search for solutions will continue.
”You just never know how far that one positive encouragement will go if we speak to the right person out of love.”
Wednesday morning some 300 students at East Brooke Elementary School will take a pledge against gun violence as part of a nationwide campaign sponsored locally by Voices of Black Mothers United.