GREENWOOD, Ind – Police believe the same group of three or four teens may be involved in incidents where two Greenwood Park Mall employees were held at gunpoint in the span of two weeks.
Both incidents took place in the evening, in the same parking lot outside the mall’s Macy’s store.
On Jan. 3, a woman who asked not to be identified said she was leaving work at the mall and walking to her car when she noticed a silver SUV pulling up behind her. At first, she thought the driver was wanting to take her parking spot.
“A teenage boy jumped out with a firearm already out pointing it at me,” she said. “And before he said anything, he just went and grabbed for my bag.”
The woman said she resisted and refused to let the teen take her belongings.
“He got pretty upset that I didn’t let him take it and he ended up hitting me kind of dead center in my forehead with the butt of his firearm and got back in his vehicle,” she recalled.
The incident left the woman bloodied. She still has a scar on her forehead and still feels uncomfortable walking alone in some areas.
“I don’t necessarily feel safe,” she said. “I would recommend not coming to the mall alone after dark, honestly.”
Two weeks later, she learned that another Greenwood Park Mall employee had been robbed at gunpoint on the evening of Jan. 17. It happened around 8:40 p.m. in the same parking area outside the Macy’s store.
“It made me really angry, honestly,” she said. “I hate that somebody else had to go through what I went through.”
“It’s obviously a huge concern,” said Greenwood Police Chief Jim Ison. “This can happen anywhere, but it is uncommon that this is happening at our mall in our city.”
After the Jan. 17 robbery, investigators spoke to a witness who gave them a key piece of information. The witness described a silver SUV racing through the Lowe’s parking lot just north of the mall.
Ison said investigators were able to identify the vehicle as a Silver GMC Envoy. At that point, detectives began searching for similar vehicles in footage captured by Flock license plate reader cameras near the area of Madison Avenue and County Line Road.
“One, in particular, was going through that area multiple times and it had been reported stolen out of Indianapolis,” Ison said.
Ison said the GMC Envoy had been reported stolen in Indianapolis as part of a home invasion where a woman reported being beaten by a group of young teens. Greenwood Police were able to track the stolen SUV to the Casa del Prado neighborhood just north of County Line road. Ison said undercover officers spent nine hours watching the SUV until two juvenile males came out and started to drive the vehicle out of the neighborhood.
At that point, Ison says two marked Greenwood Police cars attempted to stop the SUV, but the driver tried to get away. The teens eventually ditched the SUV on a curb and tried to run off on foot.
“Officers were able to take both suspects into custody and during a pat-down, found a black stolen handgun on one of the teenage males,” Ison said.
Ison said Indianapolis Metropolitan Police later picked up the teens and took them to the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center to face charges related to the home invasion. Greenwood Police are putting together a photo array to see if the Greenwood Park Mall victims can identify them as suspects.
While Ison believes the two juveniles were involved with both incidents at the mall, he also believes the teens are part of a larger group of young people who were sharing the stolen SUV to commit crimes.
“We believe that we have our suspects,” Ison said. “We also believe that there’s one or two still at large that may have been involved in both of these incidents.”
“Without going too deep into the investigation and what we were told during interviews, we have reason to believe that there may be more individuals involved,” Ison continued.
Chief Ison said he plans to meet Tuesday with Simon Malls Security officials to discuss ideas on increasing security measures around Greenwood Park Mall.