INDIANAPOLIS — When David Brinker admitted to responding IMPD officers that he killed his wife Dorothy with a single gunshot to the chest early on the morning of March 6th, he also added, “It should’ve been me,” and, “I don’t want to live anymore.”
Those statements were enough to convince homicide detectives to seek immediate enforcement of the State’s Red Flag law which allowed them to seize Brinker’s four guns pending a filing by the Marion County Prosecutors Office.
When it came to seizing guns of persons deemed a danger to themselves and others, it wasn’t always so in Indianapolis.
After a teenage gunman killed eight people at a FedEx facility on Indianapolis’ southwest side in the spring of 2021, it was revealed that prosecutors had delayed filing a Red Flag seizure against the shooter even though police reports indicated he had suicidal tendencies and was a danger to himself and others.
In the wake of that fatal delay, now officers can move proactively to seize firearms while waiting for the prosecutor and the courts to sign off.
Brinker faces a November trial date for the killing of his wife though he was due in court today on a Red Flag hearing to determine the status of his seized firearms.
”I understood that they took the guns because he was suicidal that night,” said Angie Brown, a friend of the slain woman. ”Dorothy was our best friend and we don’t want her case to fall by the wayside. We want justice and hopefully, the court will not give back the guns.”
Brinker’s Red Flag hearing was postponed until December as the defendant’s pending Reckless Homicide charge precludes him from possessing firearms.
Brinker is also prohibited from possessing guns as a condition of his pretrial release, though, in non-criminal cases, a subject may be permitted to own long guns while their Red Flag seizure is pending.
”I don’t think that should even be a possibility for him until everything else is figured out. He was a danger that night. He would be a danger, I would think, continuing on,” said Kelly Lucas. ”And I am pro-guns. I own guns myself.”
Both women sat through two other cases that came before Magistrate David Hooper who was tasked with quizzing the gun owners on their responses to therapy and medication before considering the return of their firearms.
”That was really interesting to me that by the law he has to give them back but he’s sitting there and you can tell he’s definitely hesitant himself and that’s a sticky situation I think to be in,” said Lucas who watched as the magistrate sifted through the claims of one man which included a phone call to relatives who confirmed they wanted his guns returned after an accidental shooting.
”He said he had one appointment with his therapist and just started taking the medications and it’s great to hear that he’s taken his medications, great to hear that he has therapy scheduled, but what can you really accomplish in one visit? And, again, who is following up to make sure he attends the follow-up visits as well?”
Courtroom evidence today included communication from therapists regarding their patients’ participation in appointments.
Brown said that while Dorothy had never expressed concern about the guns her husband owned, her friend was worried about other mental and physical wellness issues that plagued the Brinker home.
”People have a lot of things going on and DJ himself, and I have some love for DJ, but he had some traumatic things happen in his life and that’s where he started to fall off the rails,” she said. ”I think there’s a lot of mental health issues out there that get overlooked and I definitely think it’s a good idea that we make sure that these people are doing the treatment, taking the medicine, whatever they need to do to be able to be a productive member of society and have the things that they want and everyone be safe in the outcome.”
The Marion County Prosecutors Office reports that nearly two dozen Red Flag petitions were filed during the first quarter of this year, compared to before the FedEx shooting when there would be 35-55 filings for an entire year.
“The red flag process has changed since 2021, there were talks prior to the Fed Ex shooting regarding potential changes to the process but those were expedited after the incident. The current process more accurately reflects what is outlined in the state statute,” reads a statement from MCPO. “The largest change is that law enforcement now has 48 hours after a seizure to file a petition with the court. The court then reviews the petition. If the court signs off on the petition, the matter is set for initial hearing within 14 days.”