INDIANAPOLIS — 2023 has gotten off to a homicidal start for Indianapolis teenagers as the first two killings of the new year claimed juvenile victims.
On Monday afternoon, James Martin, 15, was fatally wounded in the 2400 block of West Arlington Court.
Tuesday night, Michael Mason Jr., 16, was shot to death outside the Castleton Square Mall.
Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears told CBS4 that his office has prosecuted more than 400 juveniles for firearms possession charges since 2020.
”It’s never been easier for kids to have access to firearms,” he said. “Before you kind of had to know someone or to have access to a gun. That’s no longer the case.
“Now you just simply need to go online, and you can buy a gun on Instagram, TikTok, any of the social media platforms, and kids all across this city, all across this state, have relative ease in terms of acquiring handguns, and they get into these simple confrontations that result in violence because everybody’s armed.”
Mears’ office has recently prosecuted three high-profile teenage murder cases linked to social media gun sellers.
Two juveniles were arrested a year ago for the 2021 murder of Dusty Lawrence, of Anderson, who traveled to Indianapolis to buy a gun he saw advertised on social media.
Last month, Dashawn Williams was sentenced to 53 years in prison after he was convicted of killing Michael Williams, 19, during a 2020 meeting to conclude an online gun deal.
This past October, 17-year-old Caden Smith was ordered release from jail pending trial for the killings of three young people in an empty lot along South Meridian Street near I-465 the year before.
Detectives say within 24 hours of his release, Smith was on Snapchat posing with guns and selling firearms accessories, a violation that landed him back in jail held without bond.
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department gun crimes detectives arrested three teenagers Monday afternoon following a carjacking and armed robbery that began in the parking lot of a convenience store at the intersection of East 21st Street and North Franklin Road and ended with a police pursuit and the suspects bailing out of the car and running.
Investigators recovered a gun.
Two of the teens will face justice in Marion County Juvenile Court, while the third has been waived over to Superior Court to be tried as an adult due to his previous criminal history.
Investigators tell us they are often stymied in their attempts to track down the origin of guns used by teenagers as the juveniles frequently lie or have memory lapses when asked by a judge how they had come into possession of their firearms.