Darnell Franklin, 17, was discovered dead of a gunshot wound in the parking garage of the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis Sunday morning hours after the conclusion of most Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration activities.
Investigators say Franklin’s death was not directly related to IBE’s final Saturday night events.
A source tells Fox 59’s News that Franklin and five friends had been in Broad Ripple Saturday evening.
After leaving the village, the group we received a phone call from acquaintances inviting them to the JW Marriott.
Inside the vehicle in which the group traveled were three guns.
As the driver rounded a curve, one weapon slid out from underneath the front seat of the vehicle.
A 17-year-old boy picked up the weapon, with his finger on the trigger, and the gun discharged, its bullet striking Franklin in the back.
The youth has been arrested and charged with reckless homicide.
He is being detained at the Marion County Juvenile Center.
“They were about to ride around, talk to some girls, whatever,” said Franklin’s mother Traci Love. “They were about to meet some girls in a hotel room downtown somewhere.
“His friend was in the back seat of the car and the gun went off mistakenly.”
Love’s eyes welled up with tears as she struggled to make sense of her son’s death.
“I believe that these children need to wake up and stop playing with guns because this is tragic. I mean, my son died and it was an accident and it was his friend.
“Its killing me and I don’t know at this point how I’m even going to get through what just happened to me,” she said. “My son’s gone.
“Guns and violence is not the way and you that something’s going to happen eventually and here I am and its something that I would never imagine that would ever happen to me.
“My son is gone and my son has lost his life because someone accidentally shot him and I’ve got to deal with that. I’ve got to deal with that everyday of my life until I’m dead.
“They need to put the guns down.”
Ironically, the final night of the IBE Summer Celebration was judged a peaceful success by longtime observers and community activists.
Streets and sidewalks were not crowded and older celebrants dined and strolled through the downtown area.
“We’re from Indianapolis but to walk around here and be so safe,” said Deborah Tinsley, “the policemen are so friendly. We feel so warm and accepted. We feel so safe just walking from street to street.”
Tinsley and her sisters said they had attended a past Summer Celebration when there was gunfire.
“It was the most scariest thing to be in here.”
IMPD Chief Rick Hite credited a strong police presence and change of emphasis by IBE for the safe environment Saturday night.
“I think the theme is changing to where we have a family-oriented process and people are coming to spend the time and restaurants are open and you see people going in with their families having dinner.”