Violence shows no sign of slowing down as Indy approaches record-breaking homicides set in 2020

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Circle City was hit by violence again Tuesday when two people were killed in separate shootings several hours apart.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) was called to an apartment in the 4800 block of Covered Bridge Road around 3:10 p.m. for a report of shots fired. IMPD officers arrived and found a woman in the common area of the apartment building suffering from fatal gunshot wounds.

The shooting prompted a response from IMPD’s SWAT team, which remained on scene for several hours before determining there was no one else inside and no immediate threat to the area. Investigators don’t believe the shooting to be random, according to IMPD.

“It’s sad for our entire community for such a level of violence to take place,” said Capt. Roger Spurgeon, commander of IMPD’s Homicide Branch. “Unfortunately, we’ve been increasing these levels of violence over the last couple of years, so that’s very disconcerting for the health of our community and certainly having more families of victims that are having to lose their loved ones in such tragic ways.”

The second deadly shooting within hours happened just after 8 p.m. in the area near E. 38th St. and N. Meridian Street on Indy’s north side. IMPD said officers arrived to find a man shot in the passenger side of a car parked in a lot connected to a strip mall and in front of an apartment complex.

“I come out onto the fire escape all of a sudden I hear five rounds go off boom, boom, boom, boom, cops just got here on the scene. They had it taped off,” said Stuart McKissack, who lives in a nearby apartment complex.

The man, later identified as 30-year-old Carlos Hale Jr., was pronounced dead at the scene. Police are calling on the community to help with information that may lead to identifying those responsible.

“As far as reaching out, we absolutely need the communities help, specifically in this particular case,” said Spurgeon. “We believe that there were probably other people around that may have seen what was going on. We absolutely would love to hear from them.”

This marked the city’s 241st homicide of 2021 — just four shy of the record-breaking violence Indianapolis experienced during the previous year.

“It’s huge because obviously that denotes a much higher level of violence the community of Indianapolis Marion County has ever seen before in our history,” said Spurgeon.

Spurgeon said the highest number of homicides in a single year prior to 2020 was 179.

“We went from 179 to 245 and now we’re at 241. We’ve still got more than a month and a half left to go in the year or so unfortunately, statistically, we’re probably going to surpass the 245. That means four more people are going to be victims and how ever many more after that,” Spurgeon added.

Police also investigated an early morning homicide on Indy’s east side, where the body of a man was found in the trunk of a burning car.

“I’d love to stay stop the violence, we’re done, no more this year and not come true that we have no more homicide victims, unfortunately it’s just not trending in that way right now.”

The task is much easier said than done, but Spurgeon said there are things the community needs to address to help take a step towards finding more solutions to the violence.

“It has to do with impulse control, conflict resolution, anger management, addictions, mental illness, glorification of violence. Those are all common themes that come up again, and again, and again throughout many of these unfortunate circumstances,” said Spurgeon.

“Express yourself. If you’ve got a problem, speak up. Don’t resort to violence it’s stupid,” added McKissack.

Even one homicide, Spurgeon says, is too many.

He added, “even the justifiable, self-defense homicides. that means something has gone horribly wrong for somebody to have to defend themselves to the points of killing somebody else.”

With the number of cases IMPD Homicide Branch detectives are handling, Spurgeon said they make sure every case is handled and all boxes checked when it comes to the investigations, however, he recognizes that it may take longer given the volume of homicides they are seeing.

“As far as our detectives are concerned, while they are certainly challenged by the volume of cases that they have to work they still do put every little bit of effort they can into every single case,” he said.

They can’t do it alone, so IMPD is calling on the community to help do its part in solving crimes, while also helping to bring justice to the families and loved ones of victims.

“Police are a part of the community but we’re not the only ones that this affects as far as this violent crime,” said Spurgeon. “While we are a piece and we are charged with investigating these criminal offenses, we absolutely need the community’s help to be able to bring people to justice that have committed these horrible crimes.”

Although IMPD asks that people share information directly with its homicide detectives, the department also recognizes that may not be a method everyone is comfortable with and encourages the community to utilize ways to anonymously communicate tips, like through Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana or even the P3Tips App.

Spurgeon said he wants people to be aware of one caveat that comes with sending anonymous tips.

“Even if they give us information in an anonymous way, that is what we consider to be lead information and we as a police department have to independently verify that information, so while it may be that word on the street is ‘so-and-so did this,’ if we’re not able to directly link that up independent of that tip then we may knowing who “did something” and not being able to arrest them or prosecute them, which is a very frustrating thing for everybody involved.”

Spurgeon said he encourages people to remember these crimes also impact not only the immediate family of victims, those who know them and love them, but also the community as a whole and that’s why it’s so important that the responsibility of seeing something and saying something falls on everyone.

“Violence has so many different consequences, some that are very apparent, the loss of a human being the impact that has on their loved ones,” said Spurgeon. Others are the impacts on businesses, concern for the safety of well-being, and so much more, he said.

FOX59 spoke with more than a dozen residents and members of the community Wednesday afternoon, many whom did not want to publicly speak on the topic of violence in the city, but said they also share the frustrations and hope it stops.

McKissack said he is glad to be a voice for those who may not be comfortable speaking up.

“I just felt it necessary to speak up and say to the youngsters out there, do the right thing. Drop the guns and talk,” he said. “You have to be a part. You have to participate. I’m guilty of it, if I was really that much of an activist, I’d be going door-to-door and speaking to my community. But if you see my face, realize something, I’m not for violence. Peace is the answer.”

IMPD asks anyone with information on the E. 38th St. shooting to call Detective Jesus Soria Jr at the IMPD Homicide Office at (317) 327-3475 or e-mail the detective at Jesus.SoriaJr@indy.gov

Anyone with information about the shooting in the 4800 block of Covered Bridge Road is encouraged to contact Detective Erika Jones at the IMPD Homicide Office at 317.327.3475 or e-mail him at Erika.Jones@indy.gov

Additionally, anyone wishing to remain anoynmous can instead call Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana at 317-262-tips.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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