Community leaders hope teens will seek community involvement amid violence

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- After a 17-year-old was shot and killed and two other students critically injured, community leaders are organizing a prayer vigil to honor the teens and encourage others to stop the increase in recent teen violence.

Angel Mejia-Alfaro was killed in a parking lot near W. 38th St. and Moller Rd. The other two students that were shot were identified as 19-year-old Darius Moore and 18-year-old Dijon Anderson.

Reverend Malachi Walker said he's concerned teen violence will only increase during summer months.

"We have to save our kids and we have to do whatever needs to be done and whatever means that it takes to help solve some of these violent crimes," he said.

Walker said many organizations have plenty of activities for kids and teens to do during summer months when they're not in school, but a major concern is transportation.

"They want something more convenient that they can get to very quickly and get home instead of the hassle of taking several hours to get there and then several hours to get back on buses," Walker said.

In the heart of downtown Indy is a location that couldn't be more convenient for teens. The doors of the Center for Leadership Development are open all summer. They offer tutoring, college prep classes, and even mentors and counselors.

"Unless there are conversations around accountability, unless there are conversations around responsibility, then you will have more and more of us just continuing to be reactive to the problems we see," explained Center for Leadership Development Director, Dennis Bland. "It’s so important that we’re helping young people to love themselves, but we’re also helping young people understand that there has to be a pathway to success that we want to help you build."

Warren Township Schools released this statement after the shooting:

"As a school community we are saddened to learn of the tragic incident involving our high school students. We extend our heartfelt prayers to the families impacted by this terrible act. As classes at the high school resume on Monday, we will have the appropriate services on hand to counsel our kids."

Recent statistics from the Indiana Youth Institute show growing trends among teens who are victims of crime:

  • Adolescents ages 12-19 are much more likely to be victims of violent crime (including simple and aggravated assault, rape and other sexual assault, and robbery) than adults.
  • In 2015, 6.2% of Indiana high school students reported carrying a gun on at least one day in the past month. This rate is higher for males (10.6%) than for females (1.6%).
  • Of the 5,997 firearms traced in Indiana and recovered in CY 2015, 228 were possessed by someone younger than age 18.

In addition to summer activities at the Center for Leadership Development, Indy Parks and Rec also has a host of outdoor activities teens can do including more than 1,000 free classes and programs such as dance, basketball, and other sports.

They're also hiring seasonal employees such as lifeguards, cashiers, concession members, day camps, summer food staff and more with pay ranging from $8-15 per hour.

For more on Indy Parks, click here.

Click here for more programs from the Center for Leadership Development.