INDIANAPOLIS — Across the U.S., cities, big and small, are reporting not only increased homicides, but also mass shootings, specifically. Indianapolis is among those cities, having already had three mass shootings, most recently at the FedEx Ground Facility where authorities confirm a gunman killed 8 people.
They both went to actually start working, and never got to finish their shift, and they never got to get home… and they’re not coming back home.
Rimpi Girn, Niece of FedEx mass shooting victims Amarjit Sekhon and Jasvinder Kaur
FOX59 spoke one-on-one with loved ones for each of the victims: Samaria Blackwell, 19; Karli Smith, 19; Jasvinder Kaur, 50; Amarjeet Johal, 66; Jaswinder Singh, 68; John Weisert, 74; Amarjit Sekhon, 48; and Matthew R. Alexander, 32.
One mother, Karen Smith, described what it was like getting the news of her daughter’s murder from authorities.
“… and then reality sets in, and you’re like, ‘Hmm, eight families who lost someone; there are eight tables in the room and there are eight family groups sitting here,'” the grieving mom detailed.
This is an American reality, which the Circle City isn’t excluded from.
Nearly one week before the Indianapolis FedEx mass shooting, Gun Violence Archive data shows there was one mass shooting in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The day after Indianapolis– a mass shooting in Detroit, Michigan. Two days later, one in Columbus, Ohio and LaPlace, Louisiana. Three days later, four mass shootings in the U.S. within 24 hours.
The same archive shows mass shootings have jumped 50 percent in 2020, and in 2021, they’re still on the rise.
“The larger point though is these incidents, these horrific incidents, are far too common and they’re not getting less common,” said Tom Stucky, the executive associate dean of IUPUI’s O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs.
Already three mass shootings have happened in the Circle City this year.
Data shows one Indianapolis mass shooting in 2020; before that, one in 2015, 2014, 2008, and 2006.
Criminologists and researchers, like Stucky, say the pandemic is a contributing factor for increased mass shootings.
“If the stressors are going up, we expect that the violence will go up with it,” the former officer explained.
That’s something IMPD’s Deputy Chief Chris Bailey understands as his officers deal with mounting gun violence in the metro area.
“You even hear local people say, ‘How could you blame this on the pandemic?’ How could you not?”Deputy Chief Chris Bailey, IMPD
Bailey says an argument over a stimulus check led up to the Randolph Street mass shooting in March. Four people are now dead, including a 7-year-old.
“As unemployment goes up, certainly the stressors on families are increasing, and things like domestic violence are a serious issue,” Stucky explained to FOX 59’s Beairshelle Edmé.
FOX59 has reported 85 percent more domestic violence deaths in 2020 in the Hoosier State, according to the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Indiana had its worst unemployment in state history at nearly 17 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the same time, IMPD reported a nearly 40 percent increase in homicides — 245, the most ever in city history.
“I believe some of it has to do with the pandemic and the stress related to the pandemic and job loss and wondering how you’re going to feed your family,” the IMPD deputy chief discussed.
The veteran police officer says careless shooters and easy gun access are triggers too, even before the pandemic.
“A 1-year-old killed a couple years ago in her house, in her bed where she should have been safe– killed because people have no concern where their bullets are going to go,” he said. “These cases are repeated over and over and over again, and I know we’re focusing on 3 (mass shootings), but we have a much bigger problem in here than people that go to facilities that shoot random people — we have a problem where people are not afraid of the system, and they’re not afraid to pull the trigger and they don’t care who they hit.”
That bigger problem affects the entire Indianapolis community, but no one feels it more than people like Kim Roberts.
Her son, Jalen, died last year in what’s been dubbed the quad murders, a mass shooting at the Carriage House East Apartments.
“If I hear a siren, I get traumatized. If I hear gunshots, especially between 8:30 and 9:00 at night, I’m traumatized because in my mind I say to myself, ‘Is that what it sounded like when they went in there and did that to my son and the other three in there,’“ Roberts, 51, reflected when talking about her 19-year-old son’s murder. “This plays over and over in my head every day. I can’t watch movies– violent movies– I can’t watch them. I’m messed up.”
Shawn Brown understands that trauma; he lost his sister, niece, and nephews in this year’s Randolph Street mass shooting.
“It’s life-changing on a scale that I never thought I would have to endure,” Brown, 42, described. “The pain and the sorrow I feel every day– it’s the first thing I think about when I wake up, and it’s the last thing when I go to sleep.”
18 Hoosiers killed in mass shootings, and their families, like Brown’s, want to know why.
I just think enough is enough and it’s time for everybody to come together and work together as a community, a city, and a nation to put an end to the violence.Shawn Brown, advocate & family of Randolph Street mass shooting victims
Stucky says Brown’s efforts are part of a suite of solutions to change the upward trend of mass shootings and overall gun violence. His organization, “Enough Is Enough” will partner with several advocacy groups to host the Inaugural “Love Community Cookout” on May 22nd at Grassy Creek Park on East 30th St. His goal is to tackle gun violence with peace measures and prevention, something he hopes to do alongside IMPD.
“The absolute answer is absent any changes, and major changes, we will continue to see mass shootings, and we’ll continue to see homicides,” the researcher explained.
As for IMPD, administrators say officers will continue to tackle the rising gun violence in the community.
“It’s sad and it’s terrible that we have to have these discussion over and over and over again, and my hope, for my children’s sake and for our country’s sake, is that this isn’t something that becomes normal,” Bailey said.
But the data shows, it may already be our new normal.