INDIANAPOLIS — 2021 was a hard-luck year for Lake Castleton Apartments, the site of three murders over the course of 12 months.
Its 2022 murder-free winning streak ended on the afternoon of the last day of the year when Sean McNellye, 25, was found shot to death between two buildings.
Sunday afternoon a local church group stood on the site along with a pair of city-county council members and prayed for peace.
”We feel like as a faith-based community here in this neighborhood it is a part of our responsibility to pray for not only the family who lost their loved one but the people who live here at Lake Castleton as well as our neighborhood,” said Pastor Matt Landry of Castleton United Methodist Church.
Elsewhere on the eastside, other ministers are also tending to wounded flocks.
”I’m hearing a great deal of hurt. A great deal of feeling alone,” said Pastor Reginald Fletcher of Living Word Baptist Church. ” Oftentimes, our young people, they have solutions but they need direction and guidance in that solution.”
Just one week into 2023 Indianapolis has already counted three teenagers slain by gunfire.
The Office of Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears won more than two dozen homicide cases in court last year in an attempt to match 2021’s 84% conviction rate.
”We’re really pleased with the homicide numbers this year in terms our homicide conviction rate in the courtroom,” said Mears, “but we were only able to do that because of the relationships that we built inside the community.”
In two notable setbacks for the Prosecutor’s Office, charges were dropped against the defendant in a 2015 quadruple homicide on North Harding Street due to the death of two witnesses, the compromise of DNA evidence and the violation of the suspect’s constitutional rights. In the second case, the prosecutor is appealing a judge’s decision to disallow the murder weapon IMPD detectives claimed Caden Smith used to kill three people near South Meridian Street in the fall of 2021.
Mears said the sunset of Indiana’s gun permit law last July has made it tougher on law enforcement to take illegally possessed guns off the street.
”We’re seeing fewer handgun cases presented to our office,” he said. “We have a proliferation of guns in our community right now and law enforcement’s hands are tied in terms of being able to make that determination on the side of the road when they encounter someone with a firearm or does this person have a permit or not is no longer the threshold question and that has definitely been a game changer for law enforcement.”
This past Friday Mears’ office recused itself due to a conflict of interest from the potential prosecution of a gunman who shot to death a teenager in the parking lot of Castleton Square Mall.
A special prosecutor will be named to determine if the shooting was unintentional.