INDIANAPOLIS — Early Sunday morning IMPD homicide detectives were investigating whether a teenager was wounded inside a downtown convenience store-gas station after he said was set upon by a group of armed robbers before he killed one of the alleged attackers.
But the foster parent of the dead 19-year-old tells FOX59 News there was no robbery attempt, rather, it was the revelation of some embarrassing personal information about one of the friends that led to the gunfire.
“Some young men, who all knew each other, that might have had some words or got to the point where they were angry at each other and then end up meeting each other at the same place, seeing at each other at the same place,” said John Grice. “I definitely don’t think it was a robbery.”
Grice took in and mentored Rodney Hanley after the teenager ran away from a foster home in Gary two years ago.
“Rodney had gone through a lot of trauma you could tell, in his life,” said Grice who welcomed Hanley into The Fathers Foundation for mentoring. ”I had a long conversation with Rodney when I first met him and I asked, ‘What are you trying to do?’, and he said, ‘Nothing.’”
From “nothing” to a high school diploma, Hanley got his life on track, was honored for academic achievement during a summer banquet hosted by the Indianapolis Colts and planned on enlisting in the Indiana National Guard in October.
“He was so proud when he got his high school diploma. I mean, he had bunny ear smiles, like, oh, gee, he was coming showing me, ‘Look, I got it! I got it!’” recalled Grice. ”Rodney was a young man, like a lot of these young men, who had been through a lot of trauma, and a lot of these kids can be saved through consistency.”
Ultimately, Grice said it was Hanley’s choice of friends and where they hung out that led the group to the BP store where the teen lost his life.
“I think today with these young men is you got so many followers leading followers. You might be trying to make these changes but you have so many other bad apples around you that it’s just hard,” he said. ”They’re discussing things like this between their peers instead of somebody who could come with a better solution, like, ‘Let’s not hang out at that filling station. Let’s stay away from there.’
“You have a gun on you, it’s an emotional scene, and that’s how a lot of these young men react.”
Grice said Hanley had no family to speak of so he’s left with making burial arrangements for the young man he literally brought in from the streets.
“These kids need consistency. Once you commit to these kids, you have to stay a part of their life. You have to make them a part of your family.”