3/13 UPDATE: Elijah Hayes faces charges of murder and unlawful carrying of a handgun for his role in the shooting death of Donnie Sanders.
INDIANAPOLIS – “You look familiar.”
Seconds after making the remark, 25-year-old Elijah Hayes pulled a gun and fatally shot 35-year-old Donnie Sanders outside Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday night, according to a witness’ account.
The witness told police the man who shot Sanders wore dark clothing and a surgical mask. He had a backpack when he approached Sanders, who was taking a smoke break with some other workers when he was shot at “point blank range,” according to the witness’ account.
Right before the shooting, the suspect told Sanders he looked “familiar,” the witness said.
The shooting was reported around 9:45 p.m. Monday at 500 S. Capitol Ave., the address for Lucas Oil Stadium. Police found Sanders suffering from a gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
A separate witness told police he was sitting in his car when he saw three people hanging around on the corner. He heard gunshots and looked up to see Sanders falling to the ground while two other people ran away.
Indianapolis Metropolitan police ordered a lockdown of the Indiana Convention Center after receiving information that the shooter ran toward the building.
Detectives reviewed surveillance footage from the area in which the suspect, wearing a backpack, tried to get inside the convention center before going to the loading docks. When the individual appeared on camera again, the backpack was gone.
Investigators found the bag under a trailer and obtained a search warrant. Inside, police found a Glock with a magazine inserted, an additional 30-round extended magazine and a forklift operator ID for Elijah Hayes. Police obtained a BMV photo of Hayes and realized he matched the description of the suspect from eyewitness accounts and the surveillance video.
The crime lab found the headstamps on the bullets from the loaded firearm matched the headstamps found at the shooting scene, according to court documents. Headstamps are markings on rounds that typically identify their manufacturer and caliber.
After the shooting, a supervisor told police two people were missing: Sanders and Hayes’ brother, who is not named in court documents and is not currently charged. The brother later returned; police noticed he had the Lyft app open on his phone. The brother told police he was “just messing with the app” and hadn’t made a transaction.
According to court documents, Hayes’ brother worked for a temp agency at Lucas Oil Stadium but told police he didn’t know when the shooting happened. The brother also said he hadn’t had any contact with Hayes on the day of the incident. When pressed about his communication with Hayes, his brother requested a lawyer.
During his interview, Hayes told police he “didn’t want to speak” about his backpack. He told investigators he knew how to drive a forklift and had learned how to do so in order to pursue work opportunities. He confirmed he’d had a gun in the past, although he told police he didn’t currently have one, according to court documents.
Hayes had recently shaved his head and face, police said, which was clear “due to the marks and the discoloration in the mustache area.” Hayes told investigators it had “been a while” since he’d seen or contacted his brother.
The girlfriend of Hayes’ brother volunteered for an interview. She told investigators the two “talk often,” according to court documents.
When police told Hayes that they had information indicating he’d been in contact with his brother, he requested a lawyer. Police arrested him on a preliminary murder charge.
The shooting remains under investigation. The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office is reviewing the case.