INDIANAPOLIS – An Indianapolis mother was shot and killed along the canal early Sunday, marking the second homicide on the canal in a week.
According to the victim’s family, the shooting started over some racially charged language.
The victim, Jessica Doty Whitaker, leaves behind a little boy.
“She shouldn’t have lost her life. She’s got a 3-year-old son she loved dearly,” said her fiance Jose Ramirez.
According to Ramirez, he and the victim and two other people were hanging out along the canal when someone in their group used a slang version of the N-word.
That word prompted a confrontation by a group of strangers.
During a brief argument, Ramirez claims the suspect’s group shouted Black Lives Matter and either Whitaker or someone in her group replied that All Lives Matter.
Eventually the two sides separated because they realized they were both armed. The groups then fist bumped and walked away from each other.
However, minutes later Ramirez claims the killer opened fire from a nearby bridge and ran away.
“It was squashed and they went up the hill and left we thought, but they were sitting on St. Clair waiting for us to come under the bridge and that’s when she got shot,” said the victim’s fiancé Jose Ramirez.
Jose admits he returned fire, but didn’t hit anyone. He says explaining to Jessica’s son Greyson that he’ll never see his mom again has been the hardest part for the family.
“It’s hard to tell him his mom is in heaven and if you want to talk to her you have to look up and say, ‘I love you mom,’” said Ramirez.
Just one week earlier, two people were shot on the same part of canal. During one of those shootings, a 14-year-old identified as Curtis White Junior died during what police describe as an attempted armed robbery.
“Our message is that the canal is still a safe to go,” said IMPD Capt. Jerry Leary.
The IMPD partners with Indiana State Police, the parks department and the Department of Metropolitan Development to patrol different areas along the canal.
Police have added security cameras and will increase patrols especially during the overnight hours.
“Just recently the DMD is hiring two overtime officers to work the canal during those times nightly,” said Leary. “A combination of all those efforts we hope is going to make a difference and it can’t help to.”
For their part, Jessica’s family simply wants her killer caught.
“We’re going through a lot. The 3-year-old boy doesn’t even understand really,” said Ramirez. “I just want justice for Jessica and her son and her family.”
So far police have not released any suspect information, but anyone with information on the case can still contact Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS.