INDIANAPOLIS — Jerry Vaden was leaving for work Tuesday morning when I asked him about the gunfire that led to the murders of two teenagers at Dubarry Park just off of the 3500 block of Biscayne Road on the city’s eastside last night.
“It happens all the time. They’re always shooting guns over there,” said Vaden, whose wife was home at the time of the shootings. “She said she heard some gunshots in the middle of the night and didn’t think nothing of it because it happens all the time.”
Isaiah Jackson, 15, and Da’Vonta White, 14, were killed.
“We are reaching out to the families with some of the connections that we have and we will offer support services,” said Kendra Nowell, CEO of Community Alliance of the Far Eastside. “I’m speaking with community leaders, some of the local councilors, even making sure what can we do quickly to come together and embrace the community.”
Nowell will play host to Mayor Joe Hogsett Wednesday morning as the Office of Public Health and Safety prepares to roll out its Peacemaker program, one of whom will be assigned three days a week to work out of CAFÉ’s offices at 38th Street and North Post Road.
Indy Parks have been the sites of multiple shootings and murders in the last couple of years.
“The park rangers’ duties are to patrol the parks, the municipal parks inside Marion County, and right now we have about eleven park rangers,” said IMPD Special Operations Commander Brian Mahone, who noted there are more than 200 parks in Indianapolis. “We’ve got about 25 large parks inside Marion County.”
While patrol of Dubarry Park, tucked in behind a neighborhood near Tindley Summit Academy, has been designated as a priority for IMPD’s East District officers, it’s difficult to determine if either an officer or a park ranger rolled through the park last night.
“We have them do the drive throughs to check on the parks. The parks are closed from dusk to dawn. They make spot checks in the evening,” said Mahone. “We’ve got several hundred miles of greenways and trail space and that’s not even including all the parks areas.”
Mahone said while park rangers have arrest powers and primary duties in city parks, they do have the authority to come off park property onto city streets in the protection of life.
“They’re considered law enforcement,” he said, adding that many of the park rangers have police training skills commensurate with IMPD officers though they are paid significantly less.
The neighbors on Biscayne Road would like to see Indy Parks improve the security at Dubarry Park.
“To help it out they need to put up some cameras or something up there to help the kids,” said Vaden. “The lights would be good because if it’s lit up, it’s gonna be hard for things to happen over there.”