Family of 13-year-old shooting victim calls for action as Indy breaks murder record

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - A deadly shooting over the weekend brought Indy's yearly homicide number to 158.

While IMPD says official crime statistics will be vetted and released at the beginning of 2019, the city previously said overall crime was down.

Those statistics don't take into account the number of homicides, which has grown for four years straight.

FOX59 spoke with a family member of one of those victims whose case is still unsolved 5 months later.

Though he says crime scenes are not uncommon in the Martindale-Brightwood community, one back in July hit close to home for James Wilson.

"I was at home when I got the phone call and my mind started shifting," Wilson said, recalling the moment he learned about a shooting. The victim was his 13-year-old cousin Harry Taliefer.

"On my way to the hospital I got a phone call right when we were getting ready to pull up saying he's no longer here."

Police say Taliefer was shot in the arm and neck during a fight between dozens of people. Witnesses say he was trying to break it up.

"That says he’s setting the tone, a strong leader," says Wilson. "He’s setting an example, and not just for other young people around that age, but even for the adults."

It's an example Wilson hopes others will follow.

This year, the city invested three million dollars in grassroots organizations, aimed at fighting violent crime.

IMPD also returned to community-based beat policing. Mayor Joe Hogsett said that's just the beginning.

"As we move into the coming new year we prepare to roll out further initiatives to combat violent crime," says Hogsett.

Wilson says he believes the initiatives help, but change starts at the ground level.

"At the end of the day it lies on us. We know each other, we have a connection with each other. Don’t just sit in the house and let things like this happen."

Now five months later, he hopes the day they laid his cousin to rest was a wake up call, not just for kids in this neighborhood, but for everyone across the city.

"Do not under any circumstances let his memory go," says Wilson. "We do not let that happen because what we are doing is setting a strong precedent that this is OK, and this is not OK."

Wilson says his own story is not unlike others in this community. He says that he ran the streets starting at an early age. In and out of incarceration, even shot at the age of 16, Wilson says strong leaders helped him turn his life around.

"I’d say probably about four or five years into my incarceration, great mentors taught me so much about having emotions and understanding your emotions. I grew up not really having a lot of emotions because so much happened out here. Situations like Harry."

Wilson says he hopes others will stand up and do the same.

He says many don't know how or where to begin, but The Edna Martin Christian and other organizations like it are there to help.

For more information, head to: https://uwci.org/great-families-2020/

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