Indianapolis awaits potential blowback from violent weekend

Indianapolis Area Crime

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said it would not yet release any information regarding its ongoing investigation into a Sunday morning gun battle in the 200 block of South Meridian Street when dozens of shots were fired but no one was injured and no one was arrested.

Austin Lage returned home from a weekend trip to St. Louis to find his second floor condominium in the Warehouse District riddled with bullets.

“I would definitely say we’ve got a problem. People are gonna start leaving the city, and you’re losing tax dollars, and when you’re losing tax dollars, it’s just gonna get worse and worse, and at what point do we do something about it as a community, the mayor, the city council, does it take a tourist dying?”

Tourists were in the line of fire Sunday morning as bullets pocked windows on three floors of Homewood Suites, and a woman from St. Louis found her car window shattered with a bullet resting on the rear seat in the parking lot where the shootout occurred.

“Please do something,” said Lage, who has lived above South Meridian Street for five years. “I think Visit Indy has done a great job to bring conventions here. We don’t want to lose them, but more importantly, we don’t want to lose life, and people are gonna stop coming downtown from Indy, and the conventions are gonna leave.”

Visit Indy Vice President Chris Gahl said the impact of the weekend gun fight has not been noticed by the convention industry.

“Within hours of this last incident, we were on the phone with IMPD, with the mayor’s office, and we were responsibly saying, ‘What can we do, what happened and how can we do to keep people safe and happy in Indianapolis?’

“To date, as of this morning, we have not heard from any convention organizers who have said, ‘I don’t feel safe in Indianapolis. I don’t feel like coming to Indianapolis with my convention or meeting.’ Right, wrong or indifferent, we have not received that call.”

Tom Sutton at Coaches Tavern said the bad news from a block over in the bar district is certain to reverberate through the Indianapolis visitor and the tourist communities.

“It’s a bad look for the city — real bad look,” he said. “People won’t want to come here. If they don’t feel safe, they’re not gonna come here. They’re gonna take their business elsewhere. It’s gonna hurt us. It’s gonna hurt us business owners who are just now trying to get back up off the mat from COVID.”

Sutton said his lunchtime business is only now starting to recover after the pandemic shutdown.

“It’s gonna be up to the guy in the 25th floor of the City-County Building. Mayor Hogsett needs to step up and help us out and back the police and get us some security out here.”

IMPD said it will attempt to provide more visibility, better lighting and additional parking lot patrols downtown and add more officers in anticipation of this weekend’s 4th of July fireworks crowds.

Sunday night, Mayor Hogsett’s office issued the following statement:

“Last night, a small group of individuals engaged in dangerous and reckless behavior that has no place in our city. This type of senseless violence cannot, and will not, be tolerated. We will continue to work with our public safety partners to hold these bad actors accountable.”

Sutton, who at one time literally had a corner spot at his bar reserved for the mayor, has this message for the city’s leader.

“Mayor Hogsett, if this doesn’t end, people are gonna stop coming to our city, and we’re gonna ultimately fail.”

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