INDIANAPOLIS — With four juvenile murders in the last week, Indianapolis has recorded 21 child homicides in 2023, pushing beyond the city’s 2022 total of 19.
More than 60 children have survived gunshot wounds since the start of the year.
”We have too many children who are being murdered,” said Pastor Denell Howard of Hovey Steet Church of Christ, which held a rally against gun violence attended by more than 50 parishioners and neighbors near Kipp Indy Legacy High School. ”We just had a young man murdered just a few feet away from us.”
Friday afternoon, a 15-year-old was arrested for the murder of another 15-year-old at the school located just two blocks away from Sunday’s rally.
IMPD homicide detectives are investigating whether the killing was related to the fatal shooting of a man nearby in August.
”Some kids are experiencing abandonment issues from adults, some kids are growing up in abject poverty, tragedy, hurt and despair. It’s a struggle out here,” Howard said. ”There’s more guns available. More guns available. Access to guns. Bigger guns. Faster guns. Its just access to more guns.”
There were four anti-gun violence rallies and memorials in a two-hour period across the northeast side of Indianapolis Sunday afternoon.
A pair of gatherings were held within minutes of the site of Friday’s high school shooting.
Another was held at the location of last weekend’s Halloween party shooting that left one teenage girl dead and nine young people wounded.
Further east, behind an apartment complex, one memorial was held where the body of another teenage girl was found shot to death.
Mayor Joe Hogsett was at two of the meetings where he heard an earful from attendees calling for tougher enforcement against loud parties or the death penalty for children convicted of killing children.
”This goes beyond law enforcement,” said Hogsett, who faces re-election Tuesday. “It goes beyond the traditional forms of keeping order in our city and the community stepping up, cooperating when these type of incidents occur so that people can be appropriately held accountable and prosecuted.
”It’s getting the community involved. It’s getting parents asking the question, ‘Where is my child at eleven o’clock or twelve o’clock or one o’clock at night on a Saturday night after they’ve seen two hours before a pop up on their Facebook there’s gonna be a gathering? Where are our kids?’ That’s the responsibility of parents.”
Hogsett’s Republican opponent, Jefferson Shreve, attended the memorial service at the site of the October 29th party shooting.
“Its takes citizens of this city that are convinced we don’t have to live this way and there are ways to turn this around,” Shreve said. “And I’m convinced there are ways to turn this around. It’s gonna take a mayor that’s gonna lead. We have to have enough officers on the street, and they have to feel well-led, backed and supported, and that mayor has to work with the prosecutor to prosecute and do his job and the judiciary to sentence.”
Pastor Howard suggested the answer to youth gun violence is to approach the problem holistically as a health care and communication issue.
”Things like making this a health crisis,” Howard said. “Things like acknowledging this is an epidemic of young black males. We don’t pay attention, but a lot of them have the answers. We just gotta be willing to help them.”