INDIANAPOLIS — Friends and family of a 16-year-old shot to death at Castleton Square Mall are speaking out about the shooting.
Those who knew the teen are urging the prosecutor to file charges against the shooter.
Witnesses claim the shooter was sitting inside a white Chevy, which the victim and his friends mistakenly thought belonged to them because it was an identical make and model to their own car.
That mistake apparently led to tragedy Tuesday night and cost 16-year-old Michael Mason Jr. his life.
“This is really difficult for our entire school family,” said Erica Porter with Rooted School Indianapolis.
Sitting in front of Michael’s grandmother, leaders at the Rooted School at Eastern Star Church spoke on behalf of the teen’s family.
“A tragedy like this is very difficult to accept. A child’s life was snuffed out before he even got a chance to live,” said Porter.
School leaders say Michael played basketball and was also a dedicated student.
“His freshman year he was the only kid in the school who had perfect attendance,” said school leader Ma’at Lands.
While police won’t confirm any specifics, the father of a second person who was wounded in the shooting believes the victim’s tried to open the suspect’s car door by mistake.
“My son said wait this is not our car and all of sudden someone inside starts shooting out of the window,” said Eddie Smith Sr.
Pastor Smith’s son survived being shot four times in the leg.
While police say the shooter stayed on the scene and cooperated, the victim’s family has a message for the prosecutor.
“Anything other than murder and attempted murder is unacceptable,” said Smith Sr.
Michael’s family and former educators agree. They too hope the shooter is held accountable for the senseless violence.
“This kind of thing could happen to anybody. You go into the parking lot and see a car that looks exactly like yours,” said Porter.
Police say the shooter was released from custody pending a formal charging decision by the prosecutor’s office.
The death marks the second juvenile homicide victim killed this week.
Officials with the Office and Public Health and Safety say there are dozens of youth-serving organizations that receive grant money from the city.
They urge parents to get involved and find ways to keep their kids safe.
“Our message is get your child signed up for something. These kids need some positive programming and positive role models,” said Sharday Hoskins with OPHS.
While overall homicides fell in 2022 compared to 2021, last year also saw a higher number of youth homicide victims compared to any other recent year.