INDIANAPOLIS — In the wake of a chaotic gun battle that resulted in dozens of gunshots and bullets piercing the windows of a home and hotel in the Wholesale District and out-of-town visitors finding their car glass shattered and bullet holes in their vehicles, Mayor Hogsett was asked today about public safety in downtown Indianapolis.
“Gun violence is a problem that we are facing,” said the mayor during a virtual briefing on Marion County’s latest COVID-19 status. “I want to reassure everyone on the call that Downtown remains the safest neighborhood in the city, period.”
Grant Mitchell doesn’t think so.
“It certainly makes you hesitant which is unfortunate because Indy has so much to offer,” said Mitchell, a Southern Illinois resident and travel agent who was booked into the Homewood Suites in the 200 block of South Meridian Street over the weekend, “and would be a great place to go, but my family and my clientele will ask me about my experiences there and it’s hard for me to recommend Indianapolis when I’ve had an experience like that to myself.
“I just can’t pretend it didn’t happen.”
What happened was at about one o’clock Sunday morning, Mitchell heard gunfire on the street below his second-floor hotel room.
“It was so loud,” Mitchell said as his wife was sleeping nearby. “She jumped up to go up to the window and see outside and I had to tell her to get away from the window, ‘There’s gunshots in the window.’
“The wall opposite of the window right over our heads was peppered with holes, there was a hole in the ceiling fan, it hit the ceiling fan.
“All over our bed and our covers we were picking out pieces of bullets.
“The ricochet it could have gone anywhere and ended differently so we’re just very grateful to have come out unscathed.”
Three windows on three floors of the Homewood Suites were pocked with bullet holes, as were the windows of a second story condominium next door.
For the past few years, the bar district on South Meridian has been the scene of gunfire and injuries after closing time on weekends. Hospitality industry managers told Fox 59 News they fear Indianapolis’ growing reputation for downtown violence will stifle the visitor and tourist comeback after more than a year of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.
“It’s gonna be up to the guy in the 25th floor of the City County Building, Mayor Hogsett needs to step up and help us out and back the police and get us some security out here,” said Tom Sutton, owner of Coaches Tavern. “Mayor Hogsett, if this doesn’t end people, are gonna stop coming to our city and we’re gonna ultimately fail.”
In his first appearances before reporters since the shootout, the mayor said he expects downtown to be safe this weekend for the city’s first Fourth of July fireworks celebration in two years.
“IMPD does have a robust presence in the Downtown area, and it will certainly be so this coming holiday weekend,” said Hogsett. “We are continuing to work with downtown stakeholders on programs like our B-link camera program or the public safety ambassadors’ program.
“We are continuing to make those key investments, and we will continue to look at ways that we best support the Downtown community.”
IMPD has indicated that enhanced parking lot security and a greater public safety commitment from bar owners may be on the agenda when officers meet with downtown business owners to brainstorm ideas to make the Wholesale District safe.
Grant Mitchell hopes so.
“Like for the hotel’s stake, that hurts those people and their business, and the hotel staff was incredible and so accommodating and their hard work is marred by some idiot shooting up the place outside that they have no control over.”