INDIANAPOLIS — An overnight incident at a business on Indianapolis’ east side is being investigated as possible arson after it appears Molotov cocktails were thrown through a glass door and shots were fired.
It was a business alarm that initially brought Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) officers to Citadel Architectural Products in the 3100 block of N. Franklin Road just after 4:30 Wednesday morning. When officers got there they discovered damage to the business.
According to a police report provided by IMPD, officers arriving on scene observed a broken glass door at the front of the business and more than one Molotov cocktail on the ground inside the business.
Officers also found marks from where bullets appear to have struck a brick wall next to the door and noted that shell casings were also located in front of the building, according to the report.
“It is definitely surprising. Something to that degree is you know, anywhere,” said Benjamin Clark, who works at Backyard Blessings Garden Center, several businesses down from where this happened.
Clark said he feels the nature of the crime is concerning, but that as a business, they have taken steps to protect their property with a fence surrounding the business, which is locked after hours, and security cameras.
Their business was victimized two separate times recently during incidents of break-ins and theft. In one of those cases, Clark said their property was vandalized.
“Right afterwards we took precautions to upgrading security and stuff like that,” said Clark.
Although the areas is mainly industrial, Clark said there is a lot of foot traffic, and he knows most of the people who frequent their business, especially regulars who return often.
“Having that interaction with people that actually live close to this business is extremely important to us,” said Clark.
Officials said no injuries were reported and it appears the business was closed at the time of the incident. . The IFD/IMPD Fire Investigations Unit is now leading the investigation into what happened.
“If they have a night shift or something like that, then absolutely, someone could’ve gotten hurt,” said Clark.
“If it’s done late at night when nobody’s there, more than likely they were trying to make a statement, not necessarily hurt anybody,” said former FBI Agent and now CEO of Veracity IIR, Doug Kouns.
Kouns isn’t involved in this investigation in any way, but offered insight into the crime based on his involvement in similar investigations at the federal level.
“In my experience, anyway, I have worked a couple of cases like this. It’s typically some sort of a gripe the person has,” said Kouns. “Typically these things aren’t random, someone trying to cause property damage or destruction for no reason. There’s something that’s motivated.”
Kouns said it would be likely the first steps by investigators would be to determine any possible motive and work to identify any potential suspects.
“You try to develop your likely suspect list and then go from there, because you don’t always have a lot of good evidence in these kind of cases, because it burns itself up, quite literally,” Kouns said. “I’ve worked cases like that before, and all you have is broken glass and soot on a wall, so you don’t have a lot of evidence.”
It’s not clear whether there was damage to the interior of the business, however, a spokesperson for the Indianapolis Fire Department confirmed firefighters also responded to the scene. When IFD arrived, they found there was no fire showing. Fire investigators were called and they cleared the scene, IFD said.
Kouns said it’s important in any investigation that people with information or evidence, including those living nearby who may have seen something unusual, provide information to help investigators before something like this happens again.
CBS4 reached out to Citadel Architectural Products for a statement. Citing the ongoing police investigation, a spokesperson for the company said they are unable to comment.
IMPD police reports show that officers have been called to the business two times since May 24. In one incident, police were called to investigate vandalism after a glass door was damaged. In another incident, police received a call for a business alarm and found two windows that had been ‘busted.’
It’s not clear whether any of the three incidents are connected.
An Arson Detective with the IFD/IMPD Fire Investigations Unit was called to the business, along with a sergeant from IMPD’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team, the report showed.
Investigators have not announced any suspects or arrests in the case. Anyone with information is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana at 317-262-TIPS (8477).