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INDIANAPOLIS — Two suspects in the 2020 murder of Chris Beaty in downtown Indianapolis during nights of protests and riots made initial appearances in Marion Superior Court Monday.

Alijah Jones, 24, and Nakeyah Shields, 20, both face one count each of felony murder and attempted armed robbery and five counts of armed robbery.

Conviction of felony murder could result in prison sentences of up to 65 years.

Prosecutors said that Jones and Shields were among a group of people roaming downtown Indianapolis on May 30 during the second night of rioting last spring, robbing and attempting to carjack motorists, firing a gun and fatally shooting Beaty.

Outside of court this morning, Debra Cooper said her son was checking the perimeter of his apartment building at Talbot and Vermont Street when he actually passed on a cautionary greeting to Shields.

“The prosecutor told me the last person Chris talked to was that girl because he said when he shut his trunk he saw her standing there, and he said, ‘Hey, you be safe it’s bad out here,’ and walked on.”

Investigators found that Jones and Shields were accompanying Marcus Anderson, who is accused of shooting Beaty seconds later.

Marcus Anderson

The three defendants are set for trial September 20.

“I guess he must have walked into the robbery,” said Cooper. “I guess they were fighting him, and I would just assume he was getting the best of them, and they pulled out the gun and shot him.”

Hours later, Anderson and Jones were present when one of their friends, Dorian Murrell, was fatally wounded on East Market Street near Monument Circle.

The suspect in that case, Tyler Newby, said he shot Murrell in self-defense during what may have been a robbery attempt.

The gun that was used to killed Beaty has been linked to a shooting inside Circle Centre during the first night of rioting 24 hours earlier.

During their hearings, Shields, a high school graduate, and Jones, who said he finished two years of college studies, were ordered to be held without bond.

Shields told the Court she was the mother of one child, and Jones said he fathered two children.

Alijah Jones (left) and Nakeyah Shields (right)

Cooper said its important that she attend each court hearing of those defendants charged in her son’s killing.

“Just wanted to see them and look at them and try to figure why they would be, you know, instead of having a better life, why they would resort to robbing and all of that kind of stuff,” she said. “But to take your life down the drain like that is so sad.”

Though Jones and Shields are not charged with shooting Beaty, their participation in the events that led to his killing resulted in the felony murder charges.

“They were all there,” observed Cooper, who said she stays in touch with the prosecutors on her son’s case. “I guess they gave all of them a chance to say who did what, but nobody would say anything, so I guess that’s why the grand jury did what they did because you give somebody a chance to clear yourself and they don’t do it.”

Beaty was known to his friends as “Mr. Indianapolis” for his marketing and entertainment connections and positive attitude, which his mother said would be put to good use if he were still alive to foster the social healing in Indianapolis following last year’s protests and violence.

“Knowing him, he would have been doing just what he normally does and unite people.”