Murder victim’s mother decries teen killings and guns

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – There were 177 homicide victims in Indianapolis last year. 24 were teenagers.

Fairley Griffie was 19 years old when he was shot to death in a west side apartment complex parking lot last June.

“He was leaving the party,” said Latosha Brownlee. “He knew there was gonna be some mess when he seen those other guys. He decided to leave the party and they followed him out.”

Brownlee stood outside a Marion superior courtroom after her son’s accused killer, Jordan Taber, was advised of the murder and gun charges he faces that could result in decades in prison.

“Jordan Taber didn’t act alone,” said Brownlee. “Jordan didn’t know my son. He didn’t even know my son.”

Witnesses told police that another man gave Taber the gun that fired the bullets that ended Griffie’s life.

Taber claimed self-defense and was arrested in southern Illinois on Christmas Eve.

He turned 21 the month after Griffie died.

Taber’s criminal career began at 16 when he received a 10-year prison sentence for robbery and was slapped with two additional years for a probation violation two years later.

The gun that IMPD investigators and witnesses said Taber used that night has disappeared as has the firearm taken off Griffie as he died.

Reluctant witnesses told Brownlee that other men stood by Taber’s side as he allegedly fired 19 shots at her son and his friends.

“They need to have protection for people and maybe more people will come out and talk more and come up with more stuff to get these cases solved,” said Brownlee, who feared no one would ever be arrested for her son’s death. “There’s still another person who is out that the police need to get so they’re still scared because they know there’s another person out here on the streets that was involved with my son’s murder so that’s why they’re scared to talk.”

IMPD seized more than 3,300 guns last year and investigators will focus on firearms charges as a tool to curb a record-setting murder rate in the city.

Brownlee said she was not pleased that her son started carrying a gun after he said Taber and another man threatened him.

“I just don’t think that’s right that these young men, girls, boys, are able to go and purchase handguns at the age of 18 and get a permit. They’re still immature in the mind so why would you allow these kids to be able to go and purchase a handgun but you wouldn’t  allow them to go into a liquor store to purchase liquor or purchase cigarettes?”

IMPD investigated the murders of nine juveniles last year and listed nine juvenile suspects.

Taber’s trial is set for March 19.

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