INDIANAPOLIS — For the families of two teens, this upcoming weekend marks a sad anniversary, as well as a reminder that they are still having to fight for justice.
16-year-old Brayden Shiflet and 18-year-old Landon Haggard were shot and killed, while a third person was injured, in the early morning hours on July 11, 2020. It happened on the city’s east side in the 2400 block of North Sheridan Avenue, according to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
Nearly one year later, there have been no arrests in the case and both families are hoping that changes soon for their sons, and other victims of homicides across Indianapolis.
“We just really want the violence to stop and for justice to be gotten for all of these victims that are continuing every weekend, every week, every day,” said Landon’s mother, Jodie Haggard.
Landon was a student at Indiana Wesleyan University, where his parents said he was studying psychology. Because he excelled in home school and graduated early, his parents said Landon was able to attend community college locally before coming to Indiana.
They never expected when he came here to begin his third year of college, it would be the last time they would see him.
“We got a call from the coroner’s office. We live in Maryland, our son was there going to Indiana Wesleyan University,” said Stephen. “He was down in the city that night was Friday night, and we didn’t find out until Saturday afternoon.”
Michelle Shiflet, Brayden’s mother, said, “Landon was here to start school, you know, he wasn’t even from here and it’s just really sad.”
Michelle said her son met Landon several weeks before the shooting and quickly realized they had a lot in common.
“They became very close, they just had a connection,” said Michelle. Brayden had just completed his sophomore year and would have soon started his junior year at North Central High School.
She was on her way to work when she was delivered the news by a friend of Brayden’s. She didn’t want to believe it could be true.
“I came into my job and I told my boss and I just collapsed on the floor and my boss said it was a wail that she never wants to hear again,” said Michelle. “He was 16-years-old. He went with his friends to a party that he didn’t know everybody there and basically he was at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Family members of the two boys described both of them as intelligent, kind-hearted, and driven.
“He was so smart. He started freshman year taking junior classes,” Michelle said, describing Brayden.
She continued, “he had a lot of dreams. A lot of things that he wanted to do.”
Landon’s parents also shared more about their son. “He was a very good kid, he attended church, he was very well-known in the church youth group,” said Stephen.
He continued, “we heard from a lot of his friends after the fact there at Indiana Wesleyan that he was a good kid there, doing the right things and he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Both the Haggard family and Michelle said they have leaned on their faith to help guide them through this past year.
“Without our faith, we wouldn’t have been able to get through it,” said Jodie.
“Every day is hard, every day is to get up, every day is hard to just live. It’s hard to see people live when I know he’s gone,” said Michelle.
“That was god all the way,” said Michelle, as she recalled one of the final moments before she said goodbye to Brayden. “I didn’t know that that evening that I hugged and kissed him and told him I loved him and that everything was gonna be okay because we were all beginning of COVID.”
“I never thought that that would be the last conversation I had with him, but I’m definitely grateful for that.”
The parents of both teens are hoping for several things: justice for their sons, to encourage people to come forward and communicate what they know, and for other parents and loved ones of homicide victims to also get the justice they’re fighting for.
“I wish that people would just understand how much it impacts not only my family, every family in this community,” said Michelle.
She said it’s hard to turn on the TV and know when there’s another homicide, there’s another family feeling the pain these two have been through following the loss of their children.
“The reality is we have to watch the news, we have to pay attention, we have to start talking and communicating and speaking up. It could be anybody. Anybody at any moment at any time, it doesn’t matter how old, how young, what color, where you come from,” said Michelle.
Jodie added, “I’m just disappointed how many other victims that continually keep going through the same process and caseload increasing.”
“We have done our best to heal, but until you have someone to hold accountable for what seems silly, I feel like we can’t completely heal,” she said.
They want whoever did this to know that their children and other victims of homicide are not just a statistic. They were brothers, sons, and most of all, just getting started with their lives and hoped to use them to make a positive impact.
“He was a good friend to everybody, he was always willing to help out others and he’ll be missed for sure,” Stephen shared.
“He had a heart of gold. He wanted to help anybody that he could, and he wanted to be a voice for – I guess – this generation,” said Michelle.
In 2020, IMPD investigated 245 homicides in Indianapolis. According to the department, at least half of those cases remain unsolved and the parents of Landon and Brayden hope they are among many others who will see soon justice for their loved ones.
“I hope that those people find God in their heart and know that they did wrong and know and don’t want to do that to other people,” said Michelle.
A spokesperson for IMPD said in many investigations like this, with witness cooperation, detectives are able to resolve the case and hold accountable the people committing the crimes. IMPD said any information, no matter how small or irrelevant it may seem, is relevant to detectives and could help bring closure to a family.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana at 317-262-TIPS (8477). You can always remain anonymous.