Indianapolis records detail hundreds of police, fire, EMS calls to motel this year

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INDIANAPOLIS — A deadly shooting that claimed the life of a woman Friday night is the most recent sign of trouble at an east side motel.

According to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, just before 10 p.m. officers responded to the Budget 8 Inn, located at 6850 East 21st Street, for a report of a person shot. Police said the victim was located and transported to an area hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

“Detectives responded and were able to speak with numerous witnesses and also look for video surveillance,” said Lt. Shane Foley, public information officer for IMPD.

The victim has been identified as 31-year-old Michelle Rutledge, whose family described her as a loving mother, a funny and caring person with an infectious laugh. They said she didn’t deserve what happened to her. No arrests have been announced yet in Rutledge’s case.

“This particular property has a number of cameras that cover the property and so we’re hopeful that those cameras and witnesses, a combination of that and forensic evidence, will lead us to the person or persons responsible for this incident,” said Foley.

On Monday, three days after the shooting, police were back at the hotel for a death investigation into a probable drug overdose. The motel’s owner told FOX59 a housekeeper was checking on guests after they failed to check out, when they found two people in a room and called for help.

IMPD said one person was pronounced dead at the scene, while a second person was transported to an area hospital for treatment. Their condition is not known.

Friday’s shooting was not the first deadly shooting reported at the property this year. On May 13, police investigated a shooting in the parking lot, where a man, identified as 22-year-old Marquis Lang, was killed. That same day, police also responded to investigate a fatal drug overdose at the motel.

Less than a month later, on June 7, another person was injured in a shooting, but transported to an area hospital where they were expected to survive. On September 7, two more people were injured in a shooting at the motel. They were listed in stable condition.

These are just a few of hundreds of police, fire and emergency medical services (EMS) runs documented by the city since the start of 2021. Online police reports show a variety of issues reported at the motel this year, including thefts, domestic disturbances, burglary, battery, rape investigations and overdoses.

Several guests spoke with FOX59 Monday, expressing their concerns over safety in light of the most recent shooting at the motel. We spoke directly to the owner, who said management has taken extensive steps to enhance safety measures in place to protect guests.

“We’ve done all of this work like camera systems, access to the police department 24/7 they can come,” said Kartik Patel, owner of the Budget 8 Inn.

Patel is also hoping to install B-Link, which would provide livestream video access to IMPD’s Incident Analysis Center for live stream video access.

“I know that they’ve made a number of changes over the course of the years, particularly with lighting and cameras,” said Foley, who shared the property’s management has been cooperative with police when it comes to investigations into activity and crime at the property.

“What I can say is they’ve been cooperative with us in helping with identifying persons and people responsible for crimes and involved in criminal activity,” Foley said.

Patel said the motel has measures in place to only rent rooms to people who are there for honest reasons, like only renting to people with credit cards and identification, not renting to minors, and keeping a do not rent database, but that people need to do their part to follow the rules.

“Every individual citizen has to take their personal responsibility about this,” said Patel. “We are not renting to minors; we are not renting to minors people. They are adult, grown people. Every individual has to take some collective responsibility for their life.”

“We as a hotel owner or the police department are not gonna put 24/7 eyes on each individuals and what they’re doing. We do our best, that’s why we have camera systems, digital camera systems, access to the police department,” said Patel.

“My message is to good citizens who come rent the rooms for them not to engage, not to promote those kind of people who try to sell something,” Patel said.

Data from Indianapolis EMS (IEMS) shows the agency has responded to the Budget 8 Inn 137 times since Jan. 1, 2021. A spokesperson for IEMS said the most common reason for response is drug overdoses.

Additional data provided by the Indianapolis Department of Business and Neighborhood Services shows there have been 139 runs by the Indianapolis Fire Department this year to the Budget 8 Inn. Additionally, there have been at least 900 responses by IMPD since the start of 2021.

According to data provided by the city, in less than 100 of those police incident reports, the source for the call is listed as a person having called 911.

On Monday, a sign was hung in the Budget 8 Inn office, which read, “If you need police assistance, notify the office. 911 calls from rooms may result in you being asked to leave without a refund.”

It’s not clear how long the sign has been up at the motel, however, in June, a FOX59 crew reported a sign with the same wording was posted on the door outside the Budget 8 Inn office.

When asked why that sign was there, the motel’s owner said it is to prevent people from misusing the 911 system. The second reason, he said, is to make sure the hotel does not reach the service to room ratio, which would put them at risk for being placed on probation by the city.

“It’s a balancing – every citizen has a right to call 911. The 911 calls when made in x number of – from versus the number of rooms,” said Patel. “We provide the services to citizens to get help from 911. Anything happens, we can’t do anything on our own without enrolling the police department.”

Indianapolis city code states a hotel or motel can be put on probation and required to come up with a mitigation plan if the business has 2.5 emergency runs per room in one year. As of the end of November, a city spokesperson confirms the Budget 8 Inn has a 3.02 calls for service to room ratio. That data only includes police and fire calls.

“The license for this location expires on January 5, 2022. If an application for renewal is submitted, the 3.02 ratio will be reviewed and taken into consideration when deciding if this location will be placed on probation,” said Brandi Pahl, a spokesperson for the Indianapolis Department of Business and Neighborhood Services.

Patel disputes the claim that the motel is above the number of emergency runs per room in a given year.

“I did have a meeting like 3 to 4 months ago with the neighborhood service and they’re even not sure what the actual ratio is,” said Patel. “Every day we write how many times the police comes, what reason they come and every month I collect the data from them also.”

Patel said their staff respects the police department, cooperates with them and follows the laws. He believes there is an error in the way the ratios are being counted.

“They see number of runs that means that we call 911, that’s not true always,” said Patel.

“That’s why we are also keeping the records and we want to respectfully follow the laws. We want to be, it’s not like we care less about the laws,” Patel said. “We can easily prove that we are way below in the ratios even with that many police runs according to the ratios.”

The city’s hotel and motel ordinance formula does not factor emergency calls from motel or hotel employees, Pahl confirmed. Only emergency calls from citizens or guests apply.

If placed on probation, representatives of the location would need to complete meetings with police, fire, health and zoning officials to discuss issues related to the property contributing to criminal activity and actions to mitigate the activity.

IMPD wants to remind citizens that anyone needing immediate help should always call police.

“If people need the police, they need to call 911. If it’s non-emergency, they can call the non-emergency number,” said Foley. “Something like a noise complaint that maybe could be addressed through the front office, sure there’s other avenues, there’s times when calling the front office would be an appropriate approach, but if somebody needs the police, it’s imperative they call 911.”

City County Councillor David Ray also shared a statement with FOX59 on behalf of the responses to the location. He also commented on the sign posted by office staff.

“I’m aware of the ongoing challenges at this particular location in my district and have met with the owners previously to urge them to make positive changes. I was not aware of any sign discouraging guests from calling 911 in the case of an emergency. Anyone in my district who needs emergency assistance should call 911, without exception.”

City County Councillor David Ray

Patel said he hopes people will hear his message to keep illegal activity away from the motel and allow those who are staying there for the right reasons to have the opportunity to do so.

“We don’t have the power to control this. The power we have for to run the business, we are doing extremely well running the business,” he said. “Even the shooting we had Friday night, we still are having a lot of people coming in and renting the rooms. Why do they keep coming. Everywhere you go there is some good and some bad people.”

As for Friday night’s shooting, IMPD asks anyone with information to call Detective Connie Pearson at the IMPD Homicide Office at (317) 327-3475 or email her at Connie.Pearson@indy.gov.

Additionally, you can also call Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana at (317) 262-8477 (TIPS) where you can remain anonymous.

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