INDIANAPOLIS — A months-long investigation into a series of shots fired into a home on Indy’s east side led to the arrest of a 31-year-old man.
Zechari Scott, who is accused of shooting into a home in the 1400 block of North Audubon Road on multiple occasions, is behind bars, charged with three counts of criminal recklessness.
While video evidence, technology, and ballistic evidence contributed to building a case, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said it was eyewitnesses who provided a description of the suspect that ultimately led to the arrest.
“After months of absolute confusion and terror, our family can finally breathe a little easier knowing that the man responsible for this nightmare is in custody,” said homeowner Lance Huffman. “It was with the help of friends and neighbors that we were able to gather enough evidence to put an end to this violence before lives were lost.”
Huffman told FOX59 his home had been targeted by gunfire multiple times in the last two months, forcing their family to flee for safety after two close calls. He said these shootings, which happened during daytime and nighttime, turned their world upside down and left his family, especially his daughters, traumatized.
“I had been watching them move out and it’s heartbreaking to see this family have to leave because somebody’s terrorizing them,” said neighbor Loraine Starks.
According to police, around 10:15 p.m. on Oct. 16, IMPD received calls about shots fired at the home. Huffman said this was the fifth time his home was targeted by gunfire since August.
A probable cause affidavit filed in Marion County shows a witness told officers he saw a black male wearing an orange hoodie in a white Pontiac car shoot towards Huffman’s home and then drive off going east on East 16th Street.
Video surveillance from the Huffman’s home showed a white car pull up before shots were fired. The vehicle then speeds off in the direction matching the witness’ description.
According to investigators, around 25 shots appeared to be fired at the home in this specific incident. The bullets shattered windows, struck objects in the home, including a bin of child’s toys, and passed through several rooms into the back of the home.
Neighbors previously shared their growing concerns and frustrations over the repeated shootings with FOX59, but said Sunday was, by far, the scariest of all.
“Sunday night was the worst. It was so, so loud we actually thought somebody was out front of our house firing at us,” said Starks. “Me and the kids got on the ground.”
“The first time it happened it was unnerving, but then honestly as it kept happening it was just frustrating that it kept happening,” said Resident Graham Haines, who lives nearby and has a young daughter. “Especially after they had more information; they had it on video, they had a plate number, and it kept happening, towards the end it was just like how long is this gonna go on?”
Haines and other neighbors said they witnessed the community band together to help provide information for investigators and help Huffman’s family.
“That was one of the bright spots of this whole situation, was every time it happened everyone was out in the street, everyone was giving every bit of detail they could to help this get figured out and everyone was there for Lance and his family,” said Haines.
“I really feel like the neighborhood in this situation, we did everything we could to try to stop this,” echoed Starks.
IMPD confirms that investigators were working on the case since receiving the initial report of a shooting at the home, but that eyewitness testimony and physical evidence were not readily available. Court records show investigators were able to put together the final pieces to the puzzle thanks to both eyewitness testimony and ballistic evidence gathered after Sunday’s shooting.
In addition to a witness that saw the vehicle, an occupant and its direction of travel, a probable cause affidavit shows Huffman found Scott on social media and provided police with his address. He also told police Scott had recently posted a picture of a rifle on his social media.
Court documents show an IMPD detective drove by Scott’s residence and saw a white Pontiac sedan with plates matching the vehicle in the video. Police had also tracked the car using the FLOCK camera system and it was seen in the area where the shots were fired Sunday night.
The affidavit also stated that another witness had called IMPD saying they had driven by the address given for Scott, and saw a white Pontiac in the driveway, and a black male wearing an orange hooded sweatshirt out front of the home.
On Monday, IMPD served a search warrant at Scott’s address and found multiple rifles and shell casings in a 1999 white Pontiac Grand Am with a plate number matching that of the car in the video.
Court documents show that detectives noted the car appeared to have an exit hole in the passenger door, which was likely from a bullet going through the door, and a tear in the passenger seat, to indicate a bullet skipping across before it exited through the door.
According to investigators, the vehicle is registered to a relative, who was behind the wheel when she was stopped for alleged traffic violations in Lawrence on Sept. 6. At that time, documents show investigators were already looking into the case and the possible connection of the vehicle to the shootings, which were first reported in August.
Throughout the course of the investigation, documents show that officers responded for several reports of shots fired into the home. The homeowners referenced a previous report recently taken by IMPD officers, where they claimed a man jumped their fence and broke a window with a propane tank.
“These acts appear to be targeted,” wrote the detective on the case in a probable cause affidavit.
According to the PC, Huffman’s wife told investigators sometime in August a black male, unknown to her, rang her doorbell and specifically asked for her husband.
“He said tell Lance, Zach(sp) said hi,” documents show.
The suspect reportedly also reached out to the homeowners via social media. Court records show Huffman does not know the suspect personally, but that he believed he was friends with his sister in high school.
As officers executed a search warrant at Scott’s home on Monday prior to his arrest, court documents show that in addition to a rifle with a collapsible stock and no serial number, as well as ammunition, they also found an unsent, unsigned letter, written out to the Huffman’s address, accusing Huffman and his sister of an “online blackmail scheme” that involved hacking.
IMPD said these claims are unsubstantiated claims that they do not have evidence to prove. Family said they are still unsure why they were the target of these incidents in the first place.
Huffman shared, “Our lives continue to be ruled by fear as we have no answers as to why. What was the motive? Will he make bond? Who else could be involved? Will we ever know?”
While he is relieved, Huffman said their life has been uprooted due to these shootings and he hopes justice will follow.
Neighbors said these actions have wreaked havoc on the entire area and left many in fear for their own lives in their homes and outside.
“My wife was out talking to our neighbors, and they go inside and then 15 minutes later it happens and you know, you think what could’ve happened if they were outside,” said Haines. “Our daughter’s bedroom is right on the side of the street and honestly for a while, I was thinking about moving her bedroom further away from the street. A bullet could ricochet.”
“It really changed everything,” said Starks. “For a while there I made it so my daughter couldn’t go play at her friend’s house because they live very close to this house.”
Starks, who has lived on the street for more than 20 years, said she also changed her routine for her son, who walks to the bus stop at the end of the street, because she didn’t want him walking by the home in case anything were to happen.
“It felt like nothing — like it it’s never going to get better. It kept happening again and again and again,” said Starks.
Many neighbors said having an arrest made in the case provides them with a sense of relief and security, but some are still concerned after two months of looking over their shoulder.
“Especially after being woken up several times from it, it’s a big relief. I’ll sleep easy,” said Haines.
“I guess it kind of took my sense of security away,” said Starks. “I guess it kind of took my sense of security away.”
“It has really affected my family, but obviously not as much as it has affected the poor family down there, and I know my daughter has played with their girls,” Starks added.
Starks said she has witnessed trauma even faced by her own children after this. Her daughter, 9-year-old Lola, said she wants to feel safe again in her own neighborhood and hopes that comes soon.
“It’s like, really scary because I want to play with my friends, but I also want to stay safe,” said Lola. “I like to play with my sisters and brothers out here and it’s hard to do that when somebody’s going around just shooting up the house down there.”
Neighbors said they hope to see increased communication between IMPD and the neighborhood and its residents after these incidents left many on edge for months.
“One of the biggest things that could improve from here right now is communication with citizens and law enforcement just to know they are on our side; they are working with us, and things are happening,” said Haines.
Scott appeared in front of a Marion County judge for a preliminary hearing on Friday. He remains behind bars at the Marion County Jail, where he is being held on an $80,000 surety bond.
Court documents show the prosecutor’s office requested a greater than standard bond, citing that the suspect poses a risk to the physical safety of another person or the community.