Pastor says woman killed on canal for proclaiming ‘all lives matter’

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INDIANAPOLIS — The family of an Indianapolis woman killed on the city’s downtown canal last week held a press conference and memorial Friday.

Jessica Doty Whitaker was shot and killed Sunday, July 5, leaving behind a three-year-old son.

The event was held by members of the Doty Whitaker family and the “Justice for Jessica” group.

Pastor Mark J. Powell opened the press conference by introducing himself as the Chief Executive of a group called “All Lives Matter” that will be incorporated in Indiana in honor of Jessica Doty Whitaker.

According to Powell, Whitaker was assassinated for saying “All Lives Matter” and the family expects the killer to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. He said the story of Whitaker’s killing has gone worldwide. 

“We are here for unity. It’s not black lives matter, white lives matter … God says all lives matter. It’s the unity of our humanity that counts,” Powell said.

Whitaker’s mother Arlena Doty said, “We don’t need the negativity that comes with it, but we do need the killer found.”

“This canal needs to be made safe. Jessica absolutely loved walking down here. It was something we could do as a family. It was important to her. This place is not safe, I don’t feel safe coming here.”

Family members shared stories and read a poem written by Whitaker. “She had a loving heart, a very loving heart,” said Doty.

Whitaker’s fiance Jose Ramirez said the canal needs to be safer and called for more cameras and patrols. “That’s all we want is justice, that’s all we can ask for is justice.”

The family said IMPD has maintained contact with them about the shooting. “We do have a detective on the case,” said Doty.

Police released surveillance photos of the incident Wednesday, in the hopes that someone in the public can identify the suspect’s group.

According to Ramirez, the shooting started over some racially charged language. Ramirez claimed he and Whitaker and two other people were hanging out along the canal when someone in their group used a slang version of the N-word.

Ramirez said that word prompted a confrontation by a group of strangers in which the suspect’s group shouted “Black Lives Matter” and either Whitaker or someone in her group replied that “All Lives Matter”.

Eventually the two sides separated because they realized they were both armed. The groups then fist bumped and walked away from each other.

However, minutes later Ramirez claims the killer opened fire from a nearby bridge and ran away.

“It was squashed and they went up the hill and left we thought, but they were sitting on St. Clair waiting for us to come under the bridge and that’s when she got shot,” said Ramirez.

Ramirez admitted he returned fire, but didn’t hit anyone. 

“We’re going through a lot. The three-year-old boy doesn’t even understand really,” said Ramirez. “I just want justice for Jessica and her son and her family.”

Anyone with information on the case can still contact Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS.

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