INDIANAPOLIS – There had been a holiday weekend BBQ behind the gray house with yellow trim at the corner of East 34th St. and Forest Manor Ave. The litter on the ground in the alley proved there had been fireworks which sometimes people mistake for gunfire.
Others in the east side neighborhood in middle of one of Indianapolis’ most violent zip codes know the sounds of guns when they hear them. A neighbor called police Saturday night and within minutes an Indianapolis Metropolitan police officer was mortally wounded and his alleged attacker was shot in the head and abdomen.
IMPD homicide detectives continue their probe into the shootout that left veteran Patrolman Perry Renn dead and Major Davis II in critical condition.
An AK-47 and several shell casings were retrieved from the alley. Davis’ white van was seized. His house on North Olney Street was searched.
Evidence of police gunfire was recovered, too.
Now witness accounts of the chaos at dusk are being compared to the official account of the policeman’s murder.
“The community called out for help,” said IMPD Chief Rick Hite. “Our officer got there on the scene. He didn’t hesitate. He didn’t wait for the young man to decide to stop and put the weapon down. He asked him to put the weapon down. He ordered him to drop the weapon. He chose to engage the officer. He fired upon the officer and the officer returned fire.”
Witnesses at the scene and family members confirm Hite’s account of the officer’s death in the line of duty.
“He was walking away when the officers pulled up and they told him to stop or something and he said, ‘No,’” family members at the BBQ told Davis’ mother, Cynthia Davis. “They said they heard gunfire.
“I just think when the police pulled up, memories came back and he snapped. I think he just thought about everything that he had went through.”
Davis’ father died during a struggle with police in 2003 on the eve of his son’s 14th birthday. His mother said Davis had been drinking lately and was depressed about his the legacy of his father’s death.
The man’s fiancé said he had been angry for no discernable reason in the hours before the shooting.
Neighbor Regina Shaw told FOX59 News that she watched Davis retrieve a large gun from a white van that evening.
Larry Hatcher was a longtime friend of Davis. He said the 25-year-old father of four began celebrating with his rifle after fireworks had been set off for children in the backyard.
“He pulled a gun out. He shot a couple times. I guess the neighbors called so then they came and told him to put the gun down.”
Angela Shaw watched the scene unfold from three houses away.
“The policeman said, ‘Put the gun down.’ He said it loud enough, you could hear him. ‘Put the gun down. Put the gun down.’
“No, no, no,” Shaw said. “He did not do it. He started shooting.”
“I heard a big boom come in my window,” said neighbor Carol Stone who later found a bullet lodged in an interior closet door. “I just heard it and it sounded like a gunshot.”
“The police shot,” said Hatcher, “and then he shot, but once they shot him, the gun went off because he had an automatic.”
Investigators think Davis’ gun fired at least four bullets.
Renn was struck in the mid-section below his protective vest.
“I peeked around and saw the officer laying there,” said Stone as she pointed to a patch of grass near a fence line, “with a lot of people around him.”
“Anytime a high velocity round comes out of that type of weapon, it can penetrate a multitude of objects,” said Hite.
“Why would we want that in an urban setting?”
Davis’ family did not admit knowing he had a semi-automatic rifle.
Despite a handful of felony cocaine arrests, and an arrest when Davis was charged with the possession of two 7.62 SKS rifles, Renn’s accused killer was not a convicted felon. Davis was convicted of a misdemeanor marijuana charge in 2008. He was not legally precluded from owning a registered gun.
Davis was not on probation or parole. He did not face any current criminal charges and did not have any open warrants.
Major Davis II did not have a pending reason to engage in a gunfight with Officer Perry Renn when he had an option to ditch the AK-47 in his hands into the knee-high grass behind a nearby abandoned house. The weapon would most likely have not been discovered in the dark and the 911 call from neighbors could have been explained away as the sound of fireworks.
“If Officer Renn did not lay his life down,” said Public Safety Director Troy Riggs, “how many people would have been killed that night? How many people in the community would’ve been struck by a firearm because he was in the way that night?”