INDIANAPOLIS — Dozens of residents of the city’s Kennedy-King neighborhood gathered Tuesday evening at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park, seeking answers and demanding change from police officials after a series of violent incidents.
Early Saturday morning, 27-year-old Darian Wiley and 24-year-old Olivia Brown were gunned down near 21st and Ruckle streets.
Neighbors and friends of Wiley said he was walking Brown to her car when two hooded men came up on them and shot them dead.
“He was just a beautiful person,” said Wiley’s roommate Adam Novelli. “He always helped the community. He was just a beautiful soul.”
Just over 48 hours before those killings, a home was shot up with bullets shattering windows and flying through the home where a child was sleeping.
The residents, who asked not to be identified over concerns for their safety, said they had interrupted thieves going through a car when the barrage of bullets came their way.
“This was a shock to all of us,” said neighborhood resident Brett McCullough. “We don’t expect this kind of violence in this direct neighborhood.”
McCullough was one of the many who turned out at the park to seek answers from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and ask that they do better.
During the nearly two-hour meeting, neighbors questioned IMPD’s North District Commander Michael Wolley about what they perceive as a lack of patrols in the area as well as street lights that have gone unfixed, despite reports to the city.
Wolley provided data showing a 6% increase in violent crime in the neighborhood since last year. The neighborhood only had one homicide in 2022 and now has two less than halfway through 2023, Wolley said.
Property crimes and aggravated assaults in the area are trending downward. However, Wolley said there has been a 400% increase in larcenies from vehicles. The same type of incident sparked the home being shot up.
Some residents asked what they could do better to help prevent crime or make investigating easier for police.
IMPD officials asked residents to be vigilant and get to know their neighbors. Some weren’t satisfied with what they heard, but for some, the blame is not on the officers.
“I think they’re good people,” McCullough said. “I don’t think the system has helped. I think the system has failed us including the lights and patrols.”
A big concern for many people at the meeting was that they were never made aware of the home being shot up until after the double homicide. Novelli said had they known, the end result may have been different.
“He was not a person that would just be carefree and not pay attention to things like that,” Novelli said. “I know for a fact he would be cautious. So I think that would’ve saved anyone’s life.”
Some residents said they were hopeful that the neighborhood will come together following these troubling incidents. Many remained worried that what happened to Darian could happen to them.
“De didn’t lose his life because he did something wrong. He lost his life because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” McCullough said. “Our neighborhood shouldn’t be the wrong place at the wrong time.”
No arrests have been announced in either case. Anyone with information is asked to contact IMPD’s homicide office at 317-327-3475 or CrimeStoppers at 317-262-TIPS.