Health Department employee robbed at gunpoint while inspecting for mosquitoes

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INDIANAPOLIS, IND. - Indianapolis Metropolitan Police are investigating after a Marion County Health Department employee was robbed while inspecting fountains for mosquitoes.

The Mosquito Control Technician told police he was checking fountains in the historic Woodruff Place neighborhood around Noon Monday, when a man armed with a handgun approached him from behind.  He said the suspect told him to “empty his pockets.”  The victim says he emptied about $200 from his pockets and dropped it on the ground.  The suspect grabbed the cash and ran northbound toward 10th Street.

According to an IMPD incident report, the armed robbery took place in the 800 block of Woodruff Place Middle Drive just before noon.  The victim says he didn’t get a good look at the suspect, and only described him as a black male in his late 20s, standing about 6 feet, 2 inches tall.  The man had a large build and short hair.

About 24 hours after the reported robbery, neighbors who live within a block of the incident hadn’t even heard about it.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Woodruff Place resident, Matt Belsaas.  “It’s really unfortunate that someone out here doing their job was affected that way.”

Belsaas said he has always felt safe in his historic, near east side neighborhood.  But it wasn’t immune to crime.

“Woodruff Place is a pretty special neighborhood,” Belsaas said.  “We like to think that we’re isolated, but we face the same issues that every urban neighborhood does.”

Cliff Bradley, who lives on the same block as the robbery, said he was home at the time it happened.  But he hadn’t noticed anything unusual.  The fact that the robbery took place in the middle of the day made him nervous.

“Well, it’s either him, or as they’re going through looking for that opportunity, a mother walking with her kids to the market, got her purse with her, why not her,” Bradley said.

“I have my license for the right to carry,” Bradley continued.  “And it makes me feel like I need to be carrying all the time.”

The Marion County Health Department has roughly 25 employees working as Mosquito Control Technicians around the county.  Most of them are seasonal employees who work during the peak summer season of mosquito activity, according to spokesman Curt Brantingham.

A statement released by Brantingham said:

“The Marion County Public Health Department is grateful for the dedicated work of our employees, who serve the community in unique ways every day. Employee safety and well-being is the health department’s top priority and will continue to be our top priority.”

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