INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) -- Indianapolis is on track to break its murder record for the second year in a row, with 61 intentional homicides on record so far in 2018.
By the end of May 2017, the intentional homicide number was 12 less, at 49 murders. The month-over-month totals were higher for May as well, with 20 murders in May 2018 compared to 14 in May 2017.
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers said several reasons, including the sudden hot weather this month, persistent poverty and an increasing opioid epidemic, could account for the increase in violent crime.
"As a police officer and as a person, you feel like a failure," said IMPD East District Commander Roger Spurgeon, "because you feel like as much as I'm doing still there's these violent acts that have happened."
Spurgeon spoke with east side community members at a monthly Coffee and Waters event at a Starbucks on Shadeland Avenue. He said, while the numbers are disheartening, he knows he and his department need to keep working.
"The flipside of that is how bad would it be were we not out here doing what were doing already," he said.
The fourth weekend in May was especially violent with 15 reported shootings and five fatalities. Some of the cases have surveillance video that Spurgeon said is integral in helping police catch the criminals, because they help witnesses confirm information and provide an opportunity for community tips.
"That's why we ask for the public's help in reporting anything they believe is suspicious," he said.
IMPD released surveillance video Wednesday from a shooting death on Monday afternoon at Post Road and East 21st Street. Officers said two people at 4:30 p.m. parked a silver Acura sedan in the parking lot of a Crown Liquors, then approached a parked pickup truck.
In the video, the two people speak to a man inside the truck. One person walks around and gets inside the truck on the passenger side. The person at the driver's window suddenly extends an arm into the cab, jumps away from the truck, references wildly toward the window and runs away. The person in the passenger seat also jumps out of the cab and runs away.
IMPD officers say the discovered Elijah Lacey, 18, with at least one gunshot wound inside the truck. He was pronounced dead on scene.
Natasha McKinley, Elijah Lacey's mother, said Eight Elijah was a senior at Lawrence Central High School and was set to graduate in a week. She said his passion was wrestling and he had wrestled for Warren Central High School. She said he loved to teach wrestling to younger students and was a fun, loving person.
"It's crazy," said Andrea Powell, assistant manager at Crown Liquors. "We all freaked out. All of us employees came up here."
Powell said she lives near the Crown Liquors store and rushed to the store as soon as she received phone calls from employees. She spent part of her Monday comforting her staff, checking surveillance video and confirming the store's own security measures.
"Getting a little bit too close for comfort," Powell said.
Officers said they are hopeful the clear surveillance video will help the public identify the suspects and solve Elijah Lacey's murder and the other murders this year.
You can contact Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana with your anonymous tip 24 hours a day. The phone is 317-262-8477. People can also text "TIP IMPD" followed by your message to 888-777.