Local leaders troubled over 2017 teen violence

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind-- The first week of February has been a particularly violent one for teens in the Circle City.

Earlier this week a 14-year-old, a 16-year-old and a 19-year-old were all shot. Two of those victims were killed.

On Friday morning, IMPD officers arrested two teenagers in connection to a deadly shooting on the near south side.

Community leaders like Reverend Malachi Walker say if nothing is done, the youth violence witnessed this week could become a trend.

“We’ve lost two teenagers and two have been arrested for murder;  that’s just in the month of February. We still have ten more months,” Walker said.

To prevent incidents of teen violence from becoming routine, Walker says it’s time for parents, officials, and local leaders to stop talking about “coming together” and actually come together with the goal of figuring out concrete solutions.

“Let’s get down to business. We have to get down to business and stop talking. Because while we are talking our young people are in the streets dying,” he said.

Other community leaders like Dr. Wallace McLaughlin say there needs to be more state and city support for community organizations that work to keep teens off the street and in productive situations.

We have well intended organizations that are doing the good work, who are doing the hard work, but there must be an infrastructure to help them to stay forthright and continue the work,” McLaughlin said.

Both men agree that this past week’s violence doesn’t necessarily point to a trend. However, in order to make sure that a trend isn’t started, then it’s important to double down on reaching the youth before it happens again.

“It’s a difficult and challenging and daunting test,” McLaughlin said.

A spokesman for IMPD acknowledged the violent week but says the city has actually done well with curbing youth violence. Here are numbers provided for juvenile murders/murder arrests going back to 2015.

It's important to note that IMPD makes a distinction between murders and homicides. In 2015, there were ten murder victims under 18 years old. There were also 18 suspects under the age of 18.

In 2016, there were four murder victims under 18 and one suspect.